Clean Power

Published on May 17th, 2013 | by Nicholas Brown


Odd Twist: US Solar Company Sells Solar Panels To China

May 17th, 2013 by  

Solaria, an American solar panel manufacturer, is going to sell a good chunk of its solar panels to China, counter to the much more common scenario of China manufacturing solar panels (and other goods) for the US.

Image Credit: Solaria

Image Credit: Solaria

Solaria is based in Fremont, California. Its panels, which are of the STS-AZ type, are being used in several large-scale (in the megawatts) solar power plants that are currently under construction in the Qinghai province of China and in Inner Mongolia.

Solaria says it is working on the projects for China Guodian Corporation, which is state-owned through its GD Solar subsidiary, and for Huanghe Hydropower, a subsidiary of China Power Investment Corporation.

“As China expands its deployment of solar energy, there is a big push toward increasing the efficiency and reliability of large-scale solar power plants,” said Solaria CEO Dan Shugar.  “These projects require high-yield technology and experienced teams. Solaria’s state-of-the-art solar photovoltaic module technology, reliable tracking systems, and expertise in large-scale project development will be of great value as China moves toward renewable power.”

However, the solar panels may not necessarily be constructed in the United States. In fact, that’s highly unlikely, as the company has stated that it will build a high-volume solar module manufacturing plant in China. I assume that’s practically a requirement for getting into the market.

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About the Author

writes on CleanTechnica, Gas2, Kleef&Co, and Green Building Elements. He has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is:

  • We sell advanced solar panels to China so that it can be tested over there, then they will make it there, and technology transferred completely. Some modifications of rules on ownership or bankruptcy tactics, then Chinese will own the technology and sell it to the world, all for the cost of initial panels that they bought.

    I have been exposed to such manipulations. Many renewable energy startups with promising technology have been conned by the Chinese. First they come here to court your tech, with the promise of investment money. Then they say they cannot get funding unless the Chinese government will own 60% of your company. So you agreed and sign your soul away with the promise of HUGE Chinese market now open to you and the funding from their super rich government. Now they want you to transfer your intellectual property rights or they will have unlimited access to it without paying any royalty, the single most important document that they are actually after. Since they own majority of your company, they will call the shots. A few months later, the management will declare your company bankrupt, and it will be sold off to any of the Chinese manufacturer, practically for free, including all of your IP rights.

    I can’t believe how many US companies and supposedly intelligent startups fell for this trap. I almost fell for it, but I could read the fine print.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Well, good for you.

      But in the meantime we’re getting cheaper solar panels which will should help the entire world avoid the worst that climate change is capable of bringing us.

      That’s important to me.

      • yeah, great sentiment

        hey, that’s a great thought @Bob_Wallace:disqus aka it’s all about me. did you stop to think of the pollution the chinese will put into the air to manufacture your cheaper panels? did you think about the reduced standard of living that your children will ‘enjoy’ and the loss of jobs here so that you can have your cheap panels? okay, so you have cheap panels, the expense of which will be offset by you paying increased taxes for the expanded social welfare programs in this country…what, you thought obama was paying for the extended durations of unemployment out of his pocket, ha! you are a fool and continue the imperiled plight of the “waaa, what about mine/me” generation…”I don’t want to work for it, it should just be given to me, so what if other people lose their livelihoods.”

        • Bob_Wallace

          Right “me” = the entire population of the world. Great reading on your part.

          China is working harder to reduce their CO2 emissions that most countries. Few countries are working harder at it.

          You want to worry about US jobs? Then point your concern at the Republican dipshits in Congress. They are the ones doing nothing to improve the US economy or create jobs for Americans.

          If fact, they are working hard to make things worse in an attempt to gain more power for themselves.

          • dcard88

            Sentiment must be getting paid for that drivel

        • Ross

          There was a solar PV pioneer on here yesterday pointing out that panels generate far more power than they take to manufacture.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Good point, Ross.

            Even if solar panels were made with 100% dirty coal generated electricity they would pay back that electricity in less than two year.

            And then they would replace dirty coal generation for 40+ more years.

            We can use dirty energy to bootstrap our way to a clean grid. Wait! That’s exactly what we are doing….

  • Bob_Wallace

    Single-axis tracking systems. Does anyone know if they are generally designed for manual seasonal horizontal-axis adjustments?

    (Time to go out and drop my panels from winter to spring. Spring+ actually, I’m behind schedule.)

    • Ross

      Surplus power from the Sun.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Yeah. When you size your system to cover as much winter needs as reasonable you end up with a lot of surplus summer capacity. At least if you live where summers are sunny.

        I generally don’t bother dropping from spring to summer orientation, I simply can’t use the extra power. My batteries are ususally full by 11AM and then I’ll do an hour of water pumping. Hours of sunlight wasted….

  • Kevin Adams

    “The Solaria STS-AZ Azimuth Tracking System is a single vertical-axis
    tracking system that features high energy yield, and low installation
    and operating costs. Each tracker is equipped with 20 Solaria modules,
    and up to 150 trackers are supported by one controller.” STS = Solar Tracking System, AZ = AZimuth

  • arne-nl

    Nicholas, what is the STS-AZ type?

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