An about face by China on solar power

From John Droz’s newsletter with a hat-tip to Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. for bringing it to my attention and via the “I can hear Joe Romm’s head exploding” department and Electric Light and Power comes this story:

CHINA TO DROP SOLAR ENERGY TO FOCUS ON NUCLEAR POWER

Asia Pulse

China will accelerate the use of new-energy sources such as nuclear energy and put an end to blind expansion in industries such as solar energy and wind power in 2012, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao says in a government report published on March 5.

China will instead develop nuclear power in 2012, actively develop hydroelectric power, tackle key problems more quickly in the exploration and development of shale gas, and increase the share of new energy and renewable energy in total energy consumption.

The guidance indicates a new trend for new-energy and renewable energy development in China from 2012. Analysts believe that the development of the solar and wind power industries will stabilize while hydropower will have the top priority in renewable energy development in China.

— Hydropower to contribute two-thirds of renewable energy

According to China’s development plan for 2011-2015, China aims to increase the share of renewable energy consumption to 11.4 per cent of total energy consumption in China by the end of 2015.

Full story here

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Alvin

Why does China have the smart energy plan while our administration depend on pixie dust?

Toby

Pragmatic Communism. Still communism, but at least they apply common sense here and there. I’ll bet they still build the panels and sell them to more gullible sorts though!!!

H.R.

No fools over there in China.

Sounds like the Chinese learn well from others mistakes, doesn’t it?

Reblogged this on pindanpost.

R. de Haan

Not entirely off topic:
Fukushima 4 potential for global disaster or… another propagandistic attempt to beef up UN powers?
http://akiomatsumura.com/2012/04/682.html

“Analysts believe that the development of the solar and wind power industries will stabilize….”
Lol, it will drop to the degree the west quits subsidizing it. Let’s hear all of the lunatics now talk about how we’re losing the tech race with China. How renewable energy is the wave of the future…….
It was a phony propped up market in which enabled China to siphon $billions from the gullible lunatics advocating this massive bit of stupidity. Now that the funds are getting shut off, the industry is dying a quick death. Can we put the turtles back now? lmao!

A C of Adelaide

I thought this part of the news report was interesting too.
“– Share of non-fossil energy use in China drops in 2011
The share of non-fossil energy consumption, including hydropower, nuclear power, wind power and solar power, in total primary energy use in China witnessed a decline of 0.3 percentage point from 8.6 per cent in 2010 to 8.3 per cent in 2011, says Qian Zhimin, deputy director with the NEA.
According to a report from the China Electricity Council on the performance of China’s power industry in 2011, the average operating hours of hydropower generating facilities decreased 376 hours to 3,028 hours in 2011 due to severe drought, the lowest level of the past 20 years.
Meanwhile, the operating hours of wind power generating units plunged by 144 hours in 2011 despite an increase of 48.16 per cent in on-grid wind power output.
The operating hours of solar power generating units also declined in spite of the tripling of installed capacity of solar PV power. “

Paul Westhaver

Nuclear Power is the long term answer without a doubt. Iran knows it. France knows it. Canada knows it. China knows it. India knows it. England knows it.
The people pushing solar power and wind mills are the some people protesting Nuclear power in the 1970’s. The only solution to to the green activism is old age and Alzheimers. Surely it comes quickly. Amen.

eddie willers

Now Solyndra has the market to themselves.

Lord Timothy of Edsion

Gee, post a link to Wen Jiabao’s full speech why don’cha. Decoded, all it means is that China will result construction on the four plants on which world was suspended following Fukushima.
As for the phrase “China to drop solar energy” … neither this phrase, nor any phrase like it, appears anywhere in Wen Jiabao’s speech.
Engineering-minded and economics-minded folks who want to know what’s *REALLY* going in China—regarding green energy technologies—need to read “Why Boston Power Went to China” in the most recent issue of MIT Technology Review (a Google search will find it).

DaveG

Woh. I was driving along Point Grey Rd in Vancouver BC. Canada, and I heard a loud explosion from the direction of David Fruit Fly Suzuki Water front mansion, I wander if it’s his head exploding. can somebody report on Al Gore? – Sarc off

oeman50

The usual suspects constantly laud China as the truly “green” country. I give them credit, they have used the press to give the world the impression they are very green. In actuality, they have been using PR to encourage the western world to continue wasting their resources on wind and solar and to buy their products. This development shows the curtain has been pulled aside and true strategy Chinese strategy is revealed. We should do the same!

Elftone

As an aside, every time I read “I can hear Joe Romm’s head exploding”, I think of Kenny Everett.
All the same, I think Toby above has hit the nail on the head.

Maybe I should move to China. At least their leaders seem to do things in a manner that makes sense. The US leaders either do nothing or do things that defy rational explanation. I have and idea: Let’s not use our internal natural resources for energy because it will produce CO2 (a plant food). Heck, everyone knows CO2 is a dangerous gas – Right??? Al Gore said it so it must be true. Sigh…

I always thought China would continue with wind and solar as long as the European Union continued with their insane carbon credit plan, a bunch of which was headed to China. With the EU falling on hard economic times perhaps the carbon credit plan is being back-burnered.

polistra

Except during the worst years of Mao, China has always been strictly pragmatic and experimental. I suspect Mao gave the current older generation a permanent and extreme allergy to all sorts of theory and ideology.
We should follow their lead. Try things, see what works. Do what works. Don’t do what fails.
Used to be the American way.
Instead, we’ve been following Mao since 1989. Following Correct Thought straight into the national grave. The deeper we dig, the more strictly and Diligently we follow the book.

TRM

Any bets they will beat the USA/Europe to LFTR? Fusion? They have a very fascinating angle on fusion and I haven’t heard any updates for a few years now. Did someone just make a breakthrough on sustained fusion? Oh Mr Chairman ….
I wouldn’t bet against them getting to it first. They understand the concept of base load energy supply. The solar and wind will probably be used in rural areas to help them have at least some energy for phones etc without the huge cost of running lines. Practical wins the day.

crosspatch

China is also working on a program, with Bill Gates as an investor, of fast neutron reactors to use for recycling nuclear fuel. China will have a program of massive energy production without the nuclear waste issue we have. Actually, China is implementing what was the original US nuclear energy program until Jimmy Carter decided not to recycle spent fuel.

Claude Harvey

China’s policy has always been to subsidize manufacturing and sell that junk to us while “going through the motions” of using it themselves. They’ll be quite pleased to continue selling it to us. And we marvel that their leaders think themselves ever so much smarter than ours?

Paul Westhaver says:
April 7, 2012 at 7:28 pm
Nuclear Power is the long term answer without a doubt. Iran knows it. France knows it. Canada knows it. China knows it. India knows it. England knows it.

The people screaming that we’re screwing over future generations by not adopting their agenda are the ones who are doin’ the screwin’. Odd how that always seems to be the case…

Richard Sharpe

Is seems that China suckered the whole western world.

James Allison

Lord Timothy of Edsion says:
April 7, 2012 at 7:35 pm
Gee, post a link to Wen Jiabao’s full speech why don’cha. .
As for the phrase “China to drop solar energy” … neither this phrase, nor any phrase like it, appears anywhere in Wen Jiabao’s speech.
=================================================
Except this bit. The message is clear enough.
“We will prevent blind expansion in our capacity to manufacture solar energy and wind power equipment.”

Claude Harvey

Re: R. de Haan says:
April 7, 2012 at 7:19 pm
“Fukushima 4 potential for global disaster or… another propagandistic attempt to beef up UN powers?”
Tip over that spent-fuel pool at the top floor of Fukushima Unit 4 and you’ll see why the U.S. Navy was pulling ships and personnel out of a wide swath around the plant during the original crisis. Reactor building #4 is leaning like the Tower of Pisa and propped up by hastily constructed reinforcements. That structural mess is at the opposite end of the engineering spectrum from “nuclear grade and seismically qualified”.

Canada does not know it. Ontario, the province with nuclear power, is squandering billions on green energy. What a waste.

Richard deSousa

I wonder if China will start building thorium reactors. If they are successful in designing and building them they will eat our lunch. The media has so thoroughly brain washed everything nuclear it will be impossible for us to develop our own thorium reactors. In the meanwhile the knuckle headed environmentalists and their useful idiots, the mainstream media, will continue to hobble our nuclear industry.

Is it a smile I see on that oversize picture of Mao like maybe he believes he was right to have had his red shirts drive the schoolteachers to the farms where they could at least provide some value to society?

Bruce

“Lord Timothy of Edsion says:
April 7, 2012 at 7:35 pm
Gee, post a link to Wen Jiabao’s full speech why don’cha.”

From your link to Mr Wen’s speech (English translation):
“We will optimize the energy structure, promote clean and efficient use of traditional energy, safely and effectively develop nuclear power, actively develop hydroelectric power, tackle key problems more quickly in the exploration and development of shale gas, and increase the share of new energy and renewable energy in total energy consumption.”
In other words:
New energy = nuclear and shale gas
Renewable energy = hydro
This is clearly a policy position, but enough quotable code has been inserted for green lefties to let the West sink itself into the sunset if it chooses. The Great Game continues.

Friar Marquette

Translation: OK, we in China back off … provided that you Americans don’t increase tariffs on Chinese solar panels.
Because the real story is really simple: China is holding back its burgeoning economic and technological strength in green energy technology … solely because we threatened to impose a tariff.
Sorry WUWT … your understanding of this story is utterly backwards and wrong. The WUWT headline should read “China: Full Speed Ahead on Solar Technology.”

crosspatch

I wonder if China will start building thorium reactors.

No. They are building conventional uranium/plutonium reactors. They will likely go to a plutonium fuel cycle just as the US had planned to do and as Japan is moving toward. It is quite safe, actually and REDUCES nuclear proliferation if done correctly. You turn U-238 into P-239 in a fast neutron reactor. It converts natural uranium, even depleted uranium that we use for bullets, into nuclear fuel and can be used to reprocess spent fuel rods. The key is to ensure you “poison” it with P-240. P-240 is nearly impossible to separate from P-239, it makes perfectly good reactor fuel, but is absolutely poison for a weapon. P-240 undergoes spontaneous fission, something you do NOT want to happen in a weapon.
China is currently building several Westinghouse AP-1000 plants and their modified version, the CAP-1400. They are realizing the goals laid out in the December 2005 article in Scientific American entitled “Smarter Use of Nuclear Waste”.
Russia is also building a fast neutron reactor, the SVBR-100, which will also be built in China. This unit is a fast neutron reactor that also generates electricity and is used for water desalinization.
http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NN_Heavy_metal_power_reactor_slated_for_2017_2303122.html
The US is quickly moving from world leader in nuclear power to a third-rate country.

crosspatch

We could have so much cheap, clean, electrical power in this country that the utilities would be absolutely begging us to use more of it. China is realizing that dream. We are being stupid.

DBCooper

It’s very clear that the only reason that China was heavily invested in solar panel production was to cut costs to the bone and drive out all the competition, leaving the gullible West to buy their product. Now that solar panel prices have plummeted and most competitors are belly up, it’s safe to announce what China plans to do internally for its own power sources. Their next step will be to become the low bidder on new, exportable power sources. They would have done it sooner but they could see that the USA has been sound asleep for the last 30 years.

Sam

The mentioned “Why Boston Power Went to China”
http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/39273/page1/
Its sort of funny. The mayor of Beijing has a policy that gas powered cars can only run certain days, while electric can run constantly (given the polluting nature of China’s electricity, I’m guessing the main concern is keeping pollution out of the capital). This is needless to say a great opportunity for doing business which is what the head of a small battery company is talking about.
Aside from the market, the thing she says she likes is the political attention. In the US, she wasn’t connected and didn’t lobby enough, so she didn’t get any stimulus funds. The Chinese proceeded to provide the funds and some more (125 versus 100 million). Oh, and she also got a meeting with the premier.
I think it is clear China is trying to get as much technical expertise developed in their country by inviting in foreign firms and slowly getting them to do R&D work in country. I’m not sure what you can draw from this about China’s envionmental policy.

Why Green Energy produces Red Ink
Generating electricity from solar panels in cold, cloudy Northern Europe is like growing paw-paws in Iceland – it can be done, but who would be so silly as to try?
Germany was silly enough to try. Germany gets about an hour of useful sunshine per day in winter – solar power is weakest just when they need it most. But they have installed about half of the world’s solar panels. Germany’s Q-Cells, once the world’s biggest manufacturer of solar panels, just went broke. So did four other German solar companies.
Sunny California also tried, but despite a half billion dollar loan from US tax payers, solar panel manufacturer Solyndra went broke. Solar Trust of America, recently offered $2 billion in loan guarantees by US tax payers, has also filed for bankruptcy.
All the European PIIGS have tried – and the waste of taxpayer funds on failing green energy schemes is a major reason for their parlous financial state.
The only sensible participant in the solar industry is China – they make panels very cheaply using coal power and sell them to green dreamers.
The reason green energy creates so much red ink is pretty obvious – it just needs one day’s observation of the sun.
Full strength solar energy is available around midday for around 4 hours each day, providing the skies are clear, and there is no dust on the panels, and you are in a tropical zone. For the other 20 hours of the day, most electricity must come from reliable energy sources like gas, hydro, coal or nuclear.
With all this compelling evidence of the failures of solar electricity, why is the Australian government frittering $1.5 billion on green toys like the Moree and Chinchilla Solar farms?
Green gambling is for private speculators not for captive tax payers.

Full strength solar energy is available around midday for around 4 hours each day, providing the skies are clear, and there is no dust on the panels, and you are in a tropical zone. For the other 20 hours of the day, most electricity must come from reliable energy sources like gas, hydro, coal or nuclear.
As much as I am a proponent of nuclear power this is false. In the southwestern USA the average with flat panels over a year is 6.4 hours per day. For systems that track the sun this increases to almost ten hours per day.
The department of Energy has a great site that gives the 30 year insolation values as recorded at airports around the country.

Thanks Dennis, you are correct in questioning that figure. I started with a 6 hours figure, but then settled on four hours. I took my guess from a diagram in this article: Solar Power Realities:
http://carbon-sense.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/solar-realities.pdf
I guess it is all a bit about semantics – what is “full strength solar power”.
And tracking collectors would help a lot.
Thanks for correcting me
Viv Forbes
forbes@carbon-sense.com

James Bull

They will be getting a letter from James Hansen in a verbose manner telling them how naughty they are and how they should follow the rest of us into darkness and cold!
James Bull

Friar Marquette says:
April 7, 2012 at 9:20 pm
Because the real story is really simple: China is holding back its burgeoning economic and technological strength in green energy technology … solely because we threatened to impose a tariff.

The real story is really simpler than that — China overproduced solar panels and now they’re a glut on the market. China’s “holding back its burgeoning economic and technological strength in green energy technology” because it can’t *sell* it.

LazyTeenager

James says
Except this bit. The message is clear enough.
“We will prevent blind expansion in our capacity to manufacture solar energy and wind power equipment.”
———–
James this does not mean they are dropping solar and wind production. It means they are going to give it more careful consideration. The consequence for all you know might be an actual reduction, a reduction in the rate of increase, continuing the current rate, or even increasing the rate.

LazyTeenager

Bib Forbes says
With all this compelling evidence of the failures of solar electricity, why is the Australian government frittering $1.5 billion on green toys like the Moree and Chinchilla Solar farms?
———-
Because the evidence you cited does not apply to Australia, and particularly for the areas where these power stations are being built. Australia is not called the “sunburnt country” for nothing.

The sun still rises and sets in Australia. This report is based on actual performance in Australia:
Solar Power Realities:
http://carbon-sense.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/solar-realities.pdf
Viv Forbes
forbes@carbon-sense.com

Peter Miller

Just another example of why in 25 years from now there will only be one global supoerpower – and it won’t be the USA.

DirkH

polistra says:
April 7, 2012 at 8:02 pm
“Except during the worst years of Mao, China has always been strictly pragmatic and experimental. ”
What would be the worst years of Mao? The Great Leap Forward or the Culture Revolution?
Friar Marquette says:
April 7, 2012 at 9:20 pm
“Because the real story is really simple: China is holding back its burgeoning economic and technological strength in green energy technology … solely because we threatened to impose a tariff.”
No; since april 01 Germany, the biggest market for solar panels, has cut FIT’s drastically and will from now on review and adapt the tariffs monthly, not yearly. So in the run-up to this change PV was installed in a frantic pace, 3 GWpeak in the first 3 months of this year to be able to enjoy the FIT before the cut for the next 20years by the developers.
Also, their “technological strength” in making PV panels is based on the combination of three factors:
-Lower wages
-Cheaper energy (produced by coal plants, not by PV panels)
-German fab machinery (Roth&Rau, Centrotherm)
In other words, buy a fab, produce panels, anywhere on the planet. You could do it in Washington; there’s a lot of cheap hydropower there.

jonathan frodsham

“Vietnam plans 90 new coal-based power plants by 2025, investing US$83bn to add 106GW of coal-based capacity to the sector. Vietnam will become increasingly dependent on fossil fuels with the share of renewable sources (excluding biomass) falling, bucking the trend in favor of sustainable development. The share of fossil fuels in the total primary energy supply is forecast to rise from 42% in 2002 to 69% in 2030 while at the same time, renewable sources will see their part reduced from 58% to 22% over the same period.Drought-induced low water levels in its numerous hydro power dams have caused rolling black-outs and its expected that the forecast rise in demand for power will exacerbate these deficits unless additional capacity is brought online.
Vietnam prepares to begin one of the world’s most ambitious nuclear power programs, it is scrambling to raise from scratch a field of experts needed to operate and regulate nuclear power plants. The government, which is beefing up nuclear engineering programs at its universities and sending increasing numbers of young technicians abroad, says Vietnam will have enough qualified experts to safely manage an industry that is scheduled to grow from one nuclear reactor in 2020 to 10 reactors by 2030.”
http://www.ifandp.com/article/0013975.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/02/world/asia/vietnams-nuclear-dreams-blossom-despite-doubts.html?pagewanted=all
BTW: Vietnam has a population 87,000,000.

harrywr2

http://www.platts.com/RSSFeedDetailedNews/RSSFeed/ElectricPower/8050022
To meet electricity demand, CEC estimates that China’s national installed capacity will reach 1.463 billion kW by 2015, including 342 million kW of hydropower, 928 million kW of coal-fired power, 43 million kW of nuclear power, 40 million kW of natural gas-fired power, 100 million kW of wind power, 5 million kW of solar power, and 5 million kW of biological and other energies.
I wouldn’t call it an ‘about face’. More likely a realization that new ‘solar subsidies’ in the developed world will make demand for solar less of a ‘growth issue’

Peter

I fully expect that for the next ten years liberal commentators like Bill Mahar will continue to laud China for being so advanced in the use of Solar and Wind power. They didn’t let the facts get in the way before, don’t see them letting them get in the way now.

jonathan frodsham

China might have a cap on carbon: At $2.0 per tonne and then swap it from Australia for $23 per tonne, for Australian coal making a huge profit. “Plans of mice and men”

Albert Stienstra

harrywr2 says:
April 8, 2012 at 5:28 am
http://www.platts.com/RSSFeedDetailedNews/RSSFeed/ElectricPower/8050022
To meet electricity demand, CEC estimates that China’s national installed capacity will reach 1.463 billion kW by 2015, including 342 million kW of hydropower, 928 million kW of coal-fired power, 43 million kW of nuclear power, 40 million kW of natural gas-fired power, 100 million kW of wind power, 5 million kW of solar power, and 5 million kW of biological and other energies.
I wouldn’t call it an ‘about face’. More likely a realization that new ‘solar subsidies’ in the developed world will make demand for solar less of a ‘growth issue’
=========================================================================
Also from Platts:
By 2020, China’s national installed capacity is estimated to reach a total of 1.935 billion kW, including
1. 420 million kW (23%) of hydropower,
2. 1.17 billion kW (60%) of coal-fired power,
3. 80 million kW (4%) of nuclear power,
4. 50 million kW (2.6%) of natural gas-fired power,
5. 180 million kW (9.3% installed = 2.3% net) of wind power,
6.. 25 million kW (1.2% installed = 1/5 or 0.3%) of solar power, and
7. 10 million kW (0.5%) of biological and other energies.
I call that an about-face w.r.t. solar power. It is a token fraction. So is wind power with its gas backup.

Tom Roe

One day anthropologists will debate the role the rusting hulks of mega-windmills played in the economic decline of American society. A line of jagged broken teeth to expensive to pull to far gone to fix will dot our countryside like the stone heads on Easter Island. I wonder what the arguments were against the mindless head-building? What was the name of the community organizer they followed off the cliff? As for our Chinese friends they will falter when the global dynamic becomes less favorable to them. At that point they will hide the slide until a major fiscal- political crises results. aka-the american mortgage market meltdown.