China: ET Energy creates JV in pursuit of C&I rooftop solar growth

Chinese renewable energy firm ET Energy has created a joint venture (JV) with SANY group as a platform for ambitious distributed PV projects in China. ET Energy will contribute its vast experience in project designing, PV project EPC (including module and parts purchasing), field construction, plant operation and maintenance to the JV, while SANY group will allocate its entire rooftop resource for distributed PV projects, beginning with a two million square meter rooftop were identified for the first stage. SANY group will also set up its own bank and insurance sub-company to raise funds for further ventures.

Liang Zaizhong, vice president of SANY group, stresses the importance of this cooperation with ET Energy. "The prime asset is a key factor for the success of SANY’s financial strategy, especially in today’s era with too much capital but fewer projects with good profit returns." Zaizhong said that SANY spent lot of time assessing the distributed PV industry and came to the conclusion that it is a sector on the rise.

With the continued contraction of China’s construction industry, SANY group has sought alternative revenue streams to its traditional construction machinery business. The group began expanding into other areas such as renewable energy and finance several years ago. PV is now firmly in their sights, as pv magazine reported this March – the company intends to invest some $7.7 billion in PV over the next five years. This JV with ET Energy will be an important part of this plan.

For ET Energy, cooperating with SANY is also beneficial, particularly in terms of expanding the company’s rooftop solar PV footprint.

"We believe that one of the most promising PV markets in China is distributed industrial rooftop PV projects," said by Wang Xinghua, board chairman of ET Energy.

"The reason is very simple. Utility-scale PV plants are limited by grid connection and thus carry high financial risk, while residential rooftop PV is unattractive to consumers because in China paid for electricity to the homeowner is much lower than that for industry and business utilzation. This is totally different from the markets of the U.S. and Europe. Therefore, business and industrial companies are greatly motivated to find and use cheaper electricity such as distributed PV."

Wang also revealed that around 150 MW of PV across 10 projects have been planned, covering SANY’s factory rooftops located in several Chinese cities, occupying a total rooftop area of around two million square meters.

Article edited by Ian Clover.