The 3rd China Solar Thermal Electricity Conference sponsored and hosted by China National Solar Thermal Energy Alliance was held in Dunhuang, Gansu on August 8, 2017. Mr. Liang Zhipeng, Deputy Director of New Energy and Renewable Energy Department of National Energy Administration, made remarks at the Conference. The relevant information is summed up as follows:
Globally, energy is entering a new round of transformation and development, and China has also entered a new stage of energy revolution. This stage is characterized by an increasingly important role played by renewable energy. We can see that in the new supply of energy, the proportion of renewable energy is mounting; the latest data shows that by June 2017, the installed generating capacity of renewable energy accounted for 35% of the total installed capacity in China. In the new installed capacity, renewable energy accounts for 70% in the new installed capacity in the first half of this year. A few years ago, renewable energy accounts for upwards of 70% in new installed capacity in advanced countries such as the EU and the U.S. Now, China has reached such a stage. So, the solar thermal power industry is facing good prospects. In other words, new energy enjoys a broad market and a good opportunity for development in the transition period between new and traditional energy. In this period, the solar thermal power industry, we can say, emerges at the right time with bright prospects.
Judging from the past development of hydropower, wind power, and photovoltaic industry in the renewable energy industry in China, we not only enhance the scale of development and utilization, and also nurture local manufacturing industry. Furthermore, we have also achieved this goal in the previous renewable energy development. There is another key point. China also makes another prominent contribution, namely driving down the costs of renewable energy. As we see, the cost of wind power and photovoltaic power generation has been curtailed and the Chinese industry has made a great contribution. Renewable energy can play the role of an alternative energy in the incremental development worldwide. It is inseparable from China’s industrial development and this is responsibility we shall assume. We have to build the industry, with relatively high-level technology and lower cost, so as to achieve the industrialization and market-oriented development of renewable energy.
Last year, China launched as many as 20 demonstration projects in solar thermal power generation. It seems this is rare in other countries. Why do we launch so much demonstration projects for installed capacity? For starters, I think this is not done to raise the scale suddenly. Our purpose is to build the solar thermal electricity industry, form technical capacity and drive costs down. Many participants in this conference are enterprises in various aspects of the manufacturing sector. Namely, the launch of demonstration projects can galvanize and involve enterprises on the whole solar thermal power generation industrial chain. So the success of demonstration project construction depends not merely on the completion of these projects but also on the formation of the entire industrial system, and on our technical capability to achieve reliable operation of power plants; and also on whether we curtail costs through the staged demonstration and follow-up construction.
At present, the primary goal of participating in the demonstration project is to form such technical capacity. It is no easy job in this stage. It is unrealistic to obtain good profit and profit level simply through these projects. So we still have to participate in such demonstration to enhance ability and make our contribution, and ultimately form industrial-level and market-oriented solar thermal power industry.
In yesterday’s meeting, we summed up the progress of 20 demonstration projects. Various companies have put in hard work, with varying degree of progress for a variety of reasons. Some get off the ground faster, while others are still trying to solve difficulties and problems they hit in the beginning. But overall, many of 20 projects have entered the substantive construction stage, and some have completed half the construction. So from this point of view, the solar thermal generation industry enters the substantial development stage. For the solar thermal power industry, the whole society is making active response, and there are a great many meeting participants. But these are pipe dreams without actual project progress. So we must incorporate our meeting results, and research results into the actual projects, and discover problems in these projects. The results shall be covered by our research. At this stage, our principal tasks are to carry out technology research and development on these demonstration projects, improve the support policies by government at all levels, and study the market mechanism.
In the next period of time, solar thermal power generation will also face some important tasks:
First, the upgrading of technical capacity. Whether can we form our technical capability through these demonstration projects is a key issue. In this respect, I think some companies have gotten off to an early start, and some experimental projects are put into operation. It still lags far behind the international advanced level. So we also hope that China applies state-of-the-art technology to the engineering construction more through international cooperation, and greatly bolster Chinese technical capability in solar thermal power generation through absorption, digestion and innovation.
Second, cost reduction. This is also very critical. For cost reduction, significant reduction shall be made in technology costs. We can see that the cost of wind power and photovoltaic power generation is reduced significantly when large-scale market development and the industrial system are formed in China. We also expect significant cost reduction is achieved in the field of solar thermal power generation in the wake of the formation of such industry capacity in China. For the solar thermal power generation cost and electricity costs in the future, significant reduction is achieved compared to the first batch of demonstration projects. This is both pressure and necessity, because in the current large-scale renewable energy technology, solar thermal power generation is the most expensive. In the regions like Gansu, photovoltaic power price is 0.65 yuan per kWh, and wind power price 0.50 yuan or so per kWh. Their potential for price cuts is still great. Solar thermal power generation is unsustainable if it pursues high electricity prices and high state subsidies. So, we must, on the basis of technical capacity, cut costs as soon as possible. Cost reduction is not simply a matter of the industry or businesses, of course. It is closely related to the policies issued by the state and local governments at all levels. On the current form, unreasonable charges are imposed compulsorily on the solar thermal power generation projects. I think there is great potential in the local government support for solar thermal power generation. We think this is a very key area for cost reduction.
We now uphold the full state governance based on the rule of law. Renewable energy development is rooted in the “Renewable Energy Law”. In the implementation of the law, we should adhere to one basic principle: the law and national policy shall be implemented thoroughly. Only in this way can we create a good market environment for the renewable energy industry. So after the symposium of demonstration project enterprises and today’s meeting, I think we also have a responsibility: we shall discuss with provincial-level energy departments and other government bodies about how to improve the support policy for solar thermal power generation. These policies cover taxes and fees, how solar thermal power participates in the electricity market after the electricity reform, the improvement of the industrial system, and detection, standards, and certification. To promote the solar thermal power industry, we shall come together to brainstorm and jointly improve the industrial system, so as to create a good environment for the development of solar thermal power generation.
We also believe after a period of time, solar thermal power generation will become a key new force in promoting China’s renewable energy, promoting China’s energy change, and contributing to the global energy transformation. As a key platform of exchange, China Solar Thermal Electricity Conference by China National Solar Thermal Energy Alliance has been held for several years. I also hope this platform can come up with wisdom and creativity for the development of the industry, and positively contribute to the development of the industry.
Finally, I wish today’s meeting a complete success.