China: The energy demand30. March 2012 By: George Geng, SolarMax China
China’s energy demand is increasing so quickly that it can barely be met. Even though China is currently using almost all available energy resources, the country is still reliant on energy imports. Additionally, China is also one of the fastest growing PV markets.
In 2011, more than two gigawatts of solar energy was installed, for 2012, another four GW is expected. Around 70% of the solar power capacity that has been installed is part of large-scale projects within the framework of the state’s Golden Sun Program or are part of the other large-scale facilities in western China.
This is a challenge for many service providers in the solar market. Thanks to the explosive increase in demand over the past few years, we are now seeing surplus supply. The market consolidation predicted by experts in 2011 has already taken hold.
The standards of quality in China have increased. Certification is one of the top criteria for product selection and some testing requirements are even stricter than European requirements. Solar projects often have to pass the so-called LVRT (Low Voltage Ride Through) tests carried out by the State Grid laboratory in order to receive approval for connection to the state’s national grid.
Although the price is often the first question when it comes to purchasing components, solar project companies' and fitters' awareness of quality is growing. While you currently read and hear a lot of complaints by companies who fear they are losing market share to Chinese competitors, we strongly believe there is also a great opportunity for European solar products in the Chinese market.
This especially applies to products for which mass production is not the most crucial factor. In the inverter market, for example, the complexity of technology is very high and European companies are still a decade ahead in experience which is a key factor.
European and Swiss products have a very good reputation here. It's not just the manufacturing facilities in the solar industry that come from Germany, Italy or Switzerland, many traditional products, such as high-quality Swiss watches, are highly prized for their reliability in China and contribute to greater acceptance.
About the author
George Geng is General Manager of SolarMax China. SolarMax began marketing its products in China in July 2011. The demand is particularly high for inverter series which are well-suited to large-scale projects. The SolarMax central inverters 50TS, 80TS and 100TS have already been certified for the Golden Sun Program, and certification is due for other inverters too.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own, and do not necessarily reflect those held by pv magazine.
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