Published on August 12th, 2018 | by Zachary Shahan0
China × Cleantech — July
August 12th, 2018 by Zachary Shahan
Time flies with Elon Musk is tweeting about taking Tesla private, but there’s much more news to get to beyond that. In particular, there’s much news out of China. In order to aggregate and summarize the highlights, here’s another edition of our China × Cleantech feature, also published over on the “Future Trends” section of our website. And, yes, there is some Tesla news in here as well.
China and the EU signed a joint statement to emphasize and strengthen their work together on climate change and clean energy. This is a good thing, overall, but there’s likely also something going on beneath the surface worth noting. Ever since US President Donald Trump started alienating the world, China has gained a great opportunity to be seen and heard as the most reliable, mature, forward-looking non-EU superpower in the room. It has been taking the opportunity to step into that role, and this is most certainly another example of that. By the way, though, this does come on the back of the EU pushing China to step up to the plate as a colleague, not a “developing country.”
A report from MAKE Consulting forecasts that China’s recently announced switch from a Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme to a competitive auction mechanism for renewable power will help the country surpass its national cumulative wind power target of 210 gigawatts (GW) by 2020. The report expects installations totalling more than 20 GW per year, on average, over the next 10 years.
Well beyond its own borders, China continued to extend generous financing to countries around the world. (I’m sure it expects nothing in return.) In July, it’s reported that the government loaned out $20 billion and also provided $1.6 billion in financial aid to countries in the Middle East.
China reportedly installed 24.3 GW of new solar power capacity in the first half of 2018, a figure that will dwarf the total of full-year installations from nearly every other country on the planet. That said, the good news turned to shock after some Chinese national policy changes. Our own Joshua Hill has more:
“In what was expected to be a blockbuster year for global solar capacity installations — driven by mammoth capacity additions in China — expectations have been torn asunder after China announced in June that it was imposing a cap on new distributed (small-scale) solar projects for 2018 and a reduction in its solar Feed-in Tariff (FiT). Specifically, the announcement — made jointly by China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the Ministry of Finance, and National Energy Administration (NEA) — concluded that there is ‘no new general solar capacity planned’ for 2018 except for capacity in the country’s solar poverty alleviation project.”
A large Chinese solar panel manufacturer, LONGi Solar, signed a $600 million supply agreement with a major US power plant developer. LONGi Solar will be selling its high-efficiency monocrystalline modules to the developer.
China has a big hydropower plant project under development — a very big project. It’s a $1.87 billion Fengning hydropower and energy storage project in China’s Hebei Province. GE will reportedly be delivering the variable speed pumped hydro tech.
BYD and Changan Automobile created a joint venture to build a battery factory with an annual production capacity of 10 GWh. “The first phase will deliver the first 5–6GWh of production capacity and the second phase will deliver the remaining 4–5GWh of production capacity at the new Chongqing facility.”
After earlier news about a Tesla gigafactory in China, we found out in July that the gigafactory would be financed via local government bank loans. Additionally, Tesla CEO Elon Musk went to China for meetings related to the gigafactory. While foreign companies do business in China all the time, Tesla has apparently broken through a couple of barriers. This gigafactory will reportedly be the largest foreign investment in the history of Shanghai, and it is also the first time a foreign company will get such access.
Volkswagen Group is also pushing into China, in this case partnering with FAW Group and the Connected Vehicles Research Institute. Despite a lot of fluffy talk about leadership and potential, the news doesn’t have quite the level of progress Tesla’s news above shows, but the good news is that every automaker inching or leaping into China is very clearly focused on electrification as part of their strategy, including Volkswagen Group.
Volkswagen’s Germany neighbor BMW has also been making more China moves. It increased its stake in a joint venture with Chinese firm Brilliance. The joint venture, which we’ve covered a handful of times, is BMW Brilliance Automotive.
Continuing to push for more electric driving, the government is reportedly mulling a plan to shift its EV subsidy policy to require at least 125 miles of battery-only range. This would follow the recent step of lowering incentives for cars with less than 180 miles of range.
As usual, it takes time to collect Chinese EV sales data and our update is a couple of months behind actual deliveries. Nonetheless, the story keeps getting more excited. Led by the BAIC EC-Series, the EV market grew 127% year over year, seeing approximately 94,000 electric vehicles registered in May. (Our next CleanTechnica EV sales report for China should be coming out any day. Check in again for that.)