Glut of Solar Panels Poses a New Threat to China
New York TimesBy KEITH BRADSHER | New York Times – 3 hours ago
BEIJING — China in recent years established global dominance in renewable energy, its solar panel and wind turbine factories forcing many foreign rivals out of business and its policy makers hailed by environmentalists around the world as visionaries.
But now China’s strategy is in disarray. Though worldwide demand for solar panels and wind turbines has grown rapidly over the last five years, China’s manufacturing capacity has soared even faster, creating enormous oversupply and a ferocious price war.
The result is a looming financial disaster, not only for manufacturers but for state-owned banks that financed factories with approximately $18 billion in low-rate loans and for municipal and provincial governments that provided loan guarantees and sold manufacturers valuable land at deeply discounted prices.
China’s biggest solar panel makers are suffering losses of up to $1 for every $3 of sales this year, as panel prices have fallen by three-fourths since 2008. Even though the cost of solar power has fallen, it still remains triple the price of coal-generated power in China, requiring substantial subsidies through a tax imposed on industrial users of electricity to cover the higher cost of renewable energy.
The outcome has left even the architects of China’s renewable energy strategy feeling frustrated and eager to see many businesses shut down, so the most efficient companies may be salvageable financially.
In the solar panel sector, “If one-third of them survive, that’s good, and two-thirds of them die, but we don’t know how that happens,” said Li Junfeng, a longtime director general for energy and climate policy at the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top economic planning agency.
Mr. Li said in an interview that he wanted banks to cut off loans to all but the strongest solar panel companies and let the rest go bankrupt. But banks — which were encouraged by Beijing to make the loans — are not eager to acknowledge that the loans are bad and take large write-offs, preferring to lend more money to allow the repayment of previous loans. Many local and provincial governments also are determined to keep their hometown favorites afloat to avoid job losses and to avoid making payments on loan guarantees, he said.
Mr. Li’s worries appear to be broadly shared in Beijing. “For the leading companies in the sector, if they’re not careful, the whole sector will disappear,” said Chen Huiqing, the deputy director for solar products at the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products.
The Chinese government also wants to see the country’s more than 20 wind turbine manufacturers, many of which are losing money, consolidate to five or six. “Wind does not need so many manufacturers,” said Mr. Li, who in addition to drafting renewable energy policies is the president of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association.
Chinese solar company executives blame their difficulties partly on the United States’s decisions last spring to impose antidumping and anti-subsidy tariffs on solar panel imports, and on the European Union’s recent decision to start its own antidumping investigation of imports from China.
“It is not a Chinese industry problem, it is a global solar industry problem,” said Rory Macpherson, a spokesman for Suntech Power, one of the largest Chinese solar panel manufacturers. “It is primarily the result of an imbalance between supply and demand, and the U.S. and E.U. trade investigations.”
Mr. Li said the solar industry’s problems were the result of overcapacity in China, and not the fault of trade restrictions.
Yet he insisted that if the Chinese government could turn back the clock and revisit past renewable energy decisions, it would not do anything differently.
The problem lies in the eagerness of Chinese businesses to rush into any new industry that looks attractive and swamp it with investments, he said. Chinese companies and their bankers are then far more reluctant than Western companies to admit defeat for investments that prove unprofitable.
Mr. Li added that banking regulators had not yet decided what to do about banks’ exposure to the solar sector. The central government tried without success to learn from local and provincial government agencies how much of the solar industry’s bank debt they have guaranteed, Mr. Li said.
Chinese solar power companies are making some cutbacks. Suntech, based in Wuxi, is temporarily closing a quarter of its solar cell capacity. It will transfer a majority of the 1,500 affected workers to other operations and provide severance payments to the rest.
Jiangsu province, where Suntech has its headquarters and most of its factories, issued an unusual appeal to state-owned banks several weeks ago to continue lending money to the company, a step that Mr. Li criticized as inappropriate. Mr. Macpherson of Suntech wrote in an e-mail that the Jiangsu government had not guaranteed any of the company’s debt, which totaled $2.26 billion at the end of the first quarter, including some convertible bonds in addition to bank loans. Trina Solar, one of its biggest rivals, also has said it will “streamline its operations” and shrink its work force, but did not provide details.
Trina shares have dropped 85 percent in the last three years and Suntech shares have fallen more than 98 percent in the last five years. Both trade on the New York Stock Exchange.
The modest cutbacks in production barely put a dent in China’s overcapacity problem. GTM Research, a renewable energy consulting firm in Boston, estimates that Chinese companies have the ability to manufacture 50 gigawatts of solar panels this year, while the Chinese domestic market is on track to absorb only 4 to 5 gigawatts. Exports will take another 18 or 19 gigawatts.
The enormously expensive equipment in solar panel factories needs to be run around the clock, seven days a week, to cover costs.
“You want to be up at 80 percent, so they’re half of what they need,” said Shayle Kann, the head of GTM Research, which is a unit of Greentech Media.
Chinese companies have struggled even though a dozen solar companies in the United States and another dozen in Europe have gone bankrupt or closed factories since the start of last year. The bankruptcies and closures have done little to ease the global glut and price war because China by itself represents more than two-thirds of the world’s capacity.
To reduce capacity, foreign rivals have clamored for China to subsidize the purchase of more solar panels at home, instead of having Chinese companies rely so heavily on exports. But the government here is worried about the cost of doing so, because the price of solar power remains far higher than for coal-generated power.
The average cost of electricity from solar panels in China works out to 19 cents per kilowatt-hour, said Mr. Li. That is three times the cost of coal-fired power. But it is a marked improvement from 63 cents per kilowatt-hour for solar power four years ago.
China’s official goal is to install 10 gigawatts of solar panels a year by 2015, using 20-year contracts to guarantee payment for electricity purchased from them. If costs stay where they are now, the subsidies would be $50 billion over 20 years for every 10 gigawatts of solar power installed, based on figures supplied by Mr. Li.
Even if solar power costs fall by a third, as the government hopes, he said, “it’s big money.”
The preferred trading nation status sold out the western world workers and the planet's environment - love of mamon. It allowed USA corp to outsource the jobs of their workers to a country with little worker rights and benefits, very low environmental costs and a ridiculously low fixed exchange rate.
This meant that cheap Chinese goods flooded the USA and the rest of the world putting out of work any corporations who wanted to make produce in their own country - USA, Canada, Europe - where there were costs of protecting the environment.
In the height of China's cheap dirty coal plants they were making 50 plants a year and spewing vast amounts of pollution into the air. The biggest source of mercury pollution is coal power plants. This filled the Pacific Ocean with so much mercury that the fish (such as tuna at the top of the food chain - as are we humans) are toxic and shouldn't be eaten by pregnant women at all and by anyone more than once a week.
Also the carbon dioxide combines with the seawater to form carbonic acid. Vast portions of the ocean are now dead zones - (see pop sci for a map).
The article above ignores the idea of taxing the polluting coal plants and using the money to subsidize China solar domestic use. It closes with :
"If costs stay where they are now, the subsidies would be $50 billion over 20 years for every 10 gigawatts of solar power installed, based on figures supplied by Mr. Li. Even if solar power costs fall by a third, as the government hopes, he said, “it’s big money.”
50 billion over 20 years is peanuts.
Canada is foolishly buying $150Billion of US warplanes (twice the cost they were originally quoted) because the planetary destructionist, Stepen Harper has sold out to the USA. Examples:
* taking Canada out of Kyoto accord because the USA asked him to,
* railroading through the oilsands (bill C38 guts environment canada) because the USA asked him to , and
* buying their stupid warplanes because the USA asked him to.
150 Billion on warplanes is worth $15billion a year in interest at 10%, over 20 years that is $300billion - not counting the $150 billion of principle. (it would less if their a declining balance but with the massive federal debt it cannot pay off the principle).
So $300billion +150 billion is $450 billion over 20 years - the 50 billion is laughable. China's population is 40 times Canada's and four times the USA's.
The fed is wasting 40-80 billion a month!!! over an indefininate amount of months to buy near worthless MBAs from dishonest banks to increase their profits with taxpayers money. It has already wasted trillions!!
China has 13,000 billion in its cash reserves it has built up since the preferred trading status
So why does he say big money?
Because those who are profiting off the death of the planet want to see coal and oil -take the planet to the grave to line their filty greedy pockets.
Severely Polluted Mongolia Tries a Cleaner Power Source
By MICHAEL KOHN
Published: December 3, 2012
SALKHIT, MONGOLIA — On a desolate, wind-raked hilltop not far from the Mongolian capital, white-helmeted workers were busily lifting, tugging and erecting 80-meter poles and fitting them with enormous pinwheel-like turbines in Mongolia’s first foray into wind-generated power.
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Gilles Sabrie for The New York Times
A coal-fueled plant sent fumes over Ulan Bator.
With 31 of these 260-foot, or 79-meter, turbines made by General Electric, the Salkhit, or Windy, Wind Farm will be able to produce 50 megawatts of power when it goes online in early 2013. That is enough to supply Mongolia’s 860-megawatt central grid with approximately 5 percent of its energy needs.
Inside a V.I.P. yurt near the turbines, an investment analyst for Clean Energy, a unit of Newcom Group, gave a PowerPoint presentation to a group of visiting businessmen, outlining the details of the $120 million effort. Newcom Group is the company behind the wind farm project.
The eco-friendly plant about 45 miles, or 70 kilometers, from the capital, Ulan Bator, will save Mongolia 150,000 tons of coal and reduce carbon dioxide emissions 180,000 tons annually, the businessmen were told. It also brings the latest renewable technology to a country hamstrung by inefficient combined heat and power stations built by the former Soviet Union. Ulan Bator has two main coal-fired power stations, one built in 1965 and the other in 1984.
Harnessing wind power is part of a new policy plan by the Mongolian government, which is looking for innovative ways to diversify into renewable energy, despite a wealth of coal reserves — Mongolia has about 100 billion tons of coal underground.
Earlier governments started small-scale renewable energy initiatives like the subsidized sale of solar panels to nomads, with assistance from the World Bank. The project brought solar panels to 100,000 herder families, who move three or four times a year across Mongolia’s grassy steppes and sunburned deserts.
The push to develop cleaner energy is fueled by an environmental disaster in Ulan Bator, identified by the World Health Organization as the world’s second-most polluted city, after Ahvaz in southern Iran.
According to a 2011 report by the World Bank, the population’s exposure to fine particulate matter in the city was, on average throughout the year, six to seven times as high as the most lenient World Health Organization targets.
That pollution is largely attributed to the tens of thousands of families living in slum areas called “ger districts,” where residents burn raw coal in winter to keep warm. Coal-fired power stations, exhaust from vehicles and dust from construction sites also contribute to the airborne particulate matter.
According to a study produced by the Public Health Institute of Ulan Bator, the number of people sickened by respiratory disease increased 45 percent between 2004 and 2008.
A 2011 study by Simon Fraser University in British Columbia reported that one in ten deaths in Ulan Bator can be attributed to air pollution.
Renewable energy will not fix all of Mongolia’s problems. By nature, this type of power cannot provide a constant supply of electricity — the more heat- intensive coal plants must generate that. Wind power can contribute as much as 20 percent of the electricity in the central grid.
“Mongolia has tremendous potential for solar and wind, but this is something that has to be carefully approached because of the nature of renewables. They don’t provide the same reliability as more conventional sources of energy,” said Shane Rosenthal, deputy country director for the Asian Development Bank in Ulan Bator.
With double-digit G.D.P. growth last year, Mongolia is emerging as an important economic and energy power player in the Asia-Pacific region. As it grows, the country will need energy to propel its expanding capital city and its burgeoning copper and coal mines.
For now, the Newcom project is the only wind farm under construction in the country, but the Ministry of Environment and Green Development said that other companies had shown interest in developing wind farms, particularly in the Gobi region.
Oyu Tolgoi, a $6.5 billion mine in the Gobi Desert, will need to import power from China to run its copper concentrator. But after four years, the investment agreement states that Oyu Tolgoi will have to switch to domestic power.
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Tavan Tolgoi, one of the biggest coal fields in the world, with 6.4 billion tons of coal reserves, will also need power to operate a coal-washing plant at its site in the Gobi Desert. Then there is the $10 billion industrial park planned for the city of Sainshand.
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All these projects will require new sources of energy, and the government is considering its options.
One likely source is a proposed 450-megawatt power plant, code-named CHP5, planned for Ulan Bator. GDF Suez, based in France, is the lead bidder in a consortium to develop the project, which is expected to be in operation by 2015. It would be coal-fired but would use newer, cleaner technology; Newcom, Sojitz of Japan and Posco Energy of Korea are also involved.
According to a statement from GDF Suez, the Mongolian government will buy power from the plant under a 25-year deal. Steam from the plant will be used for city heating in Ulan Bator, where winter temperatures plummet to minus 30 degrees Celsius (minus 22 Fahrenheit).
About 340 kilometers east of the capital, Prophecy Coal of Canada is proposing construction of a 600-megawatt plant. Prophecy says the plant would help Mongolia end its energy reliance on Russia and eventually allow the country to export power to China.
“First we want to build a plant that will satiate domestic demand for power,” said Oscar Mendoza, general manager for Prophecy Coal in Mongolia. “But our concept is to build a plant that can go from 600 megawatts all the way up to 3,600 megawatts or even 4,800 megawatts.”
Yet wind technology seems to be gathering momentum among Mongolia’s leaders. In November, Mongolia was host to a conference, Renewable Energy in North East Asia, that highlighted a proposed Asian supergrid, an ambitious plan to connect power grids from Japan to India.
The host for the conference was President Tsakihi Elbegdorj, named a 2012 Champion of the Earth by the United Nations Environment Program for his eco-friendly policy leadership.
Prime Minister Norov Altankhuyag has also reshaped his government’s stance on the environment by taking the Ministry of Environment and adding a “Green Development” division that will, in theory, develop renewable and environmentally responsible energy.
As part of the effort to use renewable energy sources, Newcom Group is working with Japan’s Softbank to develop a 300-megawatt wind farm in the Gobi Desert.
“They see the potential for generating large-scale power generation based on wind, to export power to China and Korea and eventually to Japan,” said Tumentsogt Tsevegmid, the chief representative of General Electric in Ulan Bator.
“After Fukushima, the Japanese said they want to shut down their nuclear program, so they need additional power,” he said, referring to the nuclear disaster and the Fukushima Daiichi plant after the tsunami last year. “ Mongolia can help.”
December 3, 2012, 2:04 pmComment
For Planes, a Climate Antidote: Bypass the Arctic
By JOANNA M. FOSTER
This year Arctic sea ice reached a historic low, breaking a record set in 2007 by a whopping 18 percent. Researchers suggest that the ice could disappear entirely in as little as two or three decades. That would accelerate the warming of the planet, given that dark solar-energy-absorbing ocean water would replace a surface of bright white ice, which reflects sunlight back into space.
Air traffic is the biggest source of pollution in the Arctic. Ever since cross-polar flights became commonplace in the late 1990s, flights crossing the Arctic Circle have risen steadily, surpassing 50,000 in 2010.
While cross-polar flights account for only a tiny percent of total global emissions from aviation, the standard cruising altitude for commercial planes in the Arctic is the stratosphere, an extremely stable layer of the atmosphere. Black carbon and other emissions get trapped in this layer and as a result remain in the atmosphere longer, causing far more damage than emissions from flights at lower latitudes, scientists say.
But with some creative detours, airlines can buy a little more time for Arctic sea ice, a new study suggests.
A hypothetical rerouting of a flight from Frankfurt to Anchorage, Alaska skirts the Arctic Circle.Mark JacobsonA hypothetical rerouting of a flight from Frankfurt to Anchorage, Alaska skirts the Arctic Circle.
Writing in the journal Climatic Change, Mark Jacobson, an atmospheric scientist at Stanford University, and other researchers report that rerouting planes around the Arctic Circle could help delay the advent of a tipping point after which the ice would eventually disappear.
The research team gathered emissions data from 40,399 cross-polar flights in 2006 and used computer simulations to compare what would happen over the next 22 years if those flights skirted the Arctic rather than following their current routes.
Using these less direct flight paths would increase commercial planes’ total fuel use by 0.056 percent, their calculations suggest. But global surface temperatures would dip by by nearly three-hundredths of a degree Fahrenheit (0.015 degrees Celsius), they wrote. That’s because the emissions would predominantly be dumped in less stable areas of the atmosphere, where precipitation washes out pollutants, especially black carbon.
Rerouting flights to save the Arctic sea ice would cost about $99 million a year in additional fuel and operational costs globally, the scientists reported. But the climatic savings from avoiding the increase in temperature would be 47 to 55 times that amount for the United States alone by 2025.
Ultimately, Dr. Jacobson warns, the aviation industry will need to make more drastic changes than skirting the Arctic.”Aircraft traffic is on the rise, so it’s not like the problem will go away by itself,” he said.
“We have three options here — move pollution sources away from sensitive areas like the Arctic; reduce emissions from current fuels, although less of one pollutant usually results in more of another; or we need to change airplane technology so that you don’t use fossil fuels anymore,” Dr. Jacobson said
This third option, which could involve switching to something like cryogenic hydrogen fuel, “is the only one which isn’t just a temporary fix,” he said. “Industry doesn’t want to spend the money, but in the end we will have to go there — it’s just a question of how much damage we inflict before we make the switch.”
It is basically that many scientists are finally realizing that they were drastically underestimating the speed of climate change. (Well duh!). Methane release in the Arctic which started even before Inconvenient truth was made - though it is not in the video is yet another factor in the acceleration. (methane has 30 times more greenhouse to CO2). Methane is in the previously frozen permafrost and below the arctic seabed.
I would like to state that I do not believe it has to be game over.
Simplfying, scientists (by in large) are the boneheads that got us into this mess. -along of course with corporations and governments which are owned by them and the mainstream media which is also owned by them.
They are incapable of thinking of any solution that will work - thinking outside the box is not in their playbook.
Completely foresting the deserts and semi-deserts of Africa, North America, China and so on as well as stopping the slash and burn programs in the Amazon and elsewhere would have an enormous effect.
Ending fossil fuel burning flaring of natural gas etc will also have an enormous effect.
Getting the world to adopt a one-child per family concept will have an enormous effect.
All of these things can be done.
The stupidity of scientists and the masses and the evil of the bi corporations are some of the enormous roadblocks to this.
Though the run-away effect is likely (perhaps very high odds). giving up is not my style.
I believe in God and in miracles.
The change in consciousness by those who pull the strings is close to a miracle, I admit, but
With faith and vision and belief - miracles can happen.
(If you are a climate change denier go open a different thread. Don't post in this thread
The world environmental situation is very very critical. If you're not on board for helping to save the planet don't post here. You will be off-topic and harassing.)
Good trading to everyone.
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It always the same with planetary destructionists. They are old and grumpy. They love to argue and make it sound like a "reasoned" debate. The tactics are always the same, confuse distract take it off topic get lost in "scientific" debate - while the clock tick and the planet dies.
They think it is like an argument over Sugar Twin or Sweet-& Low in the coffee while they soak their minds in brain-numbing mass media crap and the planet dies. They argue and debate and whatever is the status-quo is defended no matter how lacking in common sense.
I need to focus on making enough money to bring my green energy inventions to fruition while their is still time.
I no longer have time to argue without common sense.
Good trading to everyone.
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Fracking uses high pressure and high temperature steam and chemicals to break apart the shale and then frack sand to hold apart the cracks and let out the trapped natural gas.
It is high energy and high pollution to get the natural gas. It doesn't make common sense and shouldn't be entertained by anyone with the uncommon feature of common sense.
I do know from my reading that the whole natural gas via fracking has been a boondoggle and the ground structures are more complex and the actual amount of gas they (in the USA) are getting is very low. So that and the amount of energy consumed to produce the natural gas are two good reasons to abandon this "profit-at-any-cost-to-the-planet" boon-doogle.
Wind and solar are cheaper and the energy storable via hydro and or flywheels.
Good trading to everyone.
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