Life and death choices of solar thermal industry

Polaris solar PV net news: 13th century, Mongolia fight gold, under Delhi incorporated into the Mongolian Empire. Today it is a town of less than 100,000, but since its establishment more than 30 years of history. Hai Zi’s phrase “sister, tonight I’ll stay in delingha. “Its reputation upon, but does not change the fact that this barren, desolate.

Delhi will have outside the spotlight. After nine at night, except for the occasional roar of the motor from, the city is still creepy.

But in the last two years, the Delhi Government officials, experts and scholars, enterprises frequently visit the place. Accompanied by light and heat gradually on the rise, Delhi went into the energy business, the media’s view. Delhi has also obtained a new title–the world of light and heat.

A city with great fanfare in a future open cast on the new industry, is not unprecedented, but it also makes Delhi’s ambitions had to contend with light and heat rise and tied up.

Starting with Datang renewable energy projects approved by the national development and Reform Commission calculations, heat preparation course in the country for almost eight years. But so far, most of the power stations to be completed also encountered the problem, light and heat, there is no one “safe, stable, excellent long, man,” running demonstration projects. In contrast, the same for renewable solar, wind power started earlier, promoting a smooth, industrial maturity, at home and abroad and have been captured by the new energy market.

However, installing new energy, excess capacity, after the heavy burden of subsidies, the Sisters of the light and heat industries–solar energy sector in China to set up a mirror reflection, and as later light and heat of the future have to bear more pressure.

Droves of solar thermal industry had gone through several years of time, also went through numerous trials and tribulations. Past business mistakes, how many come from? And how many acts? Lack of successful operation of demonstration projects for a new round of investment boom of solar thermal industry uncertainty on the future.

In our interview, feel the excitement of entrepreneurs, Government rationality and concern for investors. After all, in their view, along with electricity prices introduced, technology is made, this is the best era of solar-thermal power generation. But it was the worst of times, after all, in the short straw for the past ten years, Delhi has become the last chance and, if successful, will rise like bamboo shoots after a industry. If it fails? Then the industry may die in its infancy.

Price: the Government’s leverage

On September 12, 2016, has produced a news magazine correspondent for the energy micro-circle of friends, after a long and anxious wait, light heat prices eventually published.

In fact, 1.15 Yuan did not meet expectations for most businesses. In price before the announcement, industry insiders had expected at 1.2, 1.3.

Even price itself more than the highest wind power price many of 0.7 yuan per kWh, but this release as an important signal – enterprise and Government see-saw, the Government is determined to support solar thermal development.

It was a see-saw, is the result of joint efforts, in droves after nearly five years at a time.

About around 2011, solar thermal industry in China has just started, initially Datang renewable energy a 50-megawatt solar-thermal project in Ordos, first encountered the tender price at that time was difficult to determine the problem.

Because at that time the NDRC price Department does not regulate heat, solar-thermal electricity price at the start had been artificially low. According to one early bids in the telecommunications industry recalls, “at that time, the price differences are large, some report for 9 cents. At that time, the companies said we all have some basis, State policies, and does not introduce pricing, we have no justice, no policy not to justice. ”

But in fact, as the solar-thermal power generation sector, Department of energy has another set of considerations. People in the industry, at a seminar in a thermoelectric, when Liang Zhipeng, Deputy Director of the Department of energy’s new Energy Division said very clearly: first, do you have the basis for industry, related industrial chain is not complete, the Government expressed doubts. Second, the power price is key. Not high, high piled on; not low, non-profits didn’t get up early. But the key question is, was the only possible landing on only in China Datang Ordos new energy projects, not the first demonstration project, how can you let me out of this price?

Therefore, the contradiction between business and Government has long failed to reconcile, companies feel that they won’t be able to do without electricity price; the Administration thinks that there is no room for demonstration projects have no reference. This pulling state that lasted nearly five years.

But what is surprising is, most interviewees expressed understanding for the Government’s approach. The price announced in September, later than the industry expected in June, while 1.15 yuan per kWh, slightly below the industry’s expectations of 1.2 Yuan/Kwh,1.3/Kwh, in the view of the industry, there are two birds with one stone-effect.

Let us twins looking at solar-thermal power generation industries–solar power. In 2008, the United States financial crisis, in that it leads to domestic exports came to a standstill. In 2009, the Government introduced the “Golden Sun” project sought to cultivate the domestic PV market. According to solar subsidies, photovoltaic power Supreme and even enjoy the subsidy of 20 Yuan per kilowatt hour, and capital markets have turned to photovoltaic industry. Golden Sun PV industry has led to serious overcapacity. Since then, the PV on-grid price is often lower, non-government price was 4.9 Yuan, later dropped to 1.9.

Zhang Mingyuan, head of solar thermal enterprises, told reporters: “compared to the solar maximum subsidy, we believe that the price of 1.15 Yuan is too low, but still very reasonable. Price low to no people to participate more, to the problem of high and massive subsidies will, is a heavy financial burden. ”

National solar thermal technology innovation strategic alliance Vice President Xue Liming said: “prices not introduced too late 2011 Charter there is a rational price bidding logically when the price level, but the system does not come. 1.15 yuan per kWh price, system integration, operation and maintenance of building funds from the current cost, well controlled, leading technology, which can be profitable. ”

But on the other hand, solar thermal industry is breaking out of its cocoon, a number of core technologies, such as tube, heat conduction oil technology at the mature stage, but not many enterprises with core technology, some real enterprise with core technology in the forefront, but also no shortage of speculators. If the price is too high, speculators immediately on admission, so deliberately low expectations. “Prices are important factors of boot, high pays top academics, low industrial development. “Xue Liming said.

“The performance of government enterprises now, depends on the project, identify future technology encourages and advocated. Also through GW’s project to promote the perfection of the whole industrial chain, localization and quality improvement. Investors also want to see exactly what kind of technology, whose products, will be compared. Price of 1.15, I do not think that low, companies always say technology is mature, policy has now, businesses do well again, who is to blame? “The China Academy of space technology, the Assistant to Zhao Dapeng said.

Denver’s success or failure

In this round of solar thermal investments, apart from the energy sector into the energy giant cross-border elements to enter the military enterprises cannot be neglected. They have played the role of solar thermal power generation output, with China Aerospace, AVIC two representatives of the University’s Department of aerospace backgrounds, bring new expertise for the development of solar thermal.

China Aerospace and solar thermal connection goes back more than 10 years ago, when China put forward “military technology serving economic construction” slogan. Rising solar-thermal technology also luck and health. Rising under the China Aerospace grade of the China Academy of space technology company, the company established in 2000, mainly engaged in the core product development and manufacturing of solar thermal technology. Rising core equipment–mainly trough power tube.

Rising is not the only military enterprises enter the solar-thermal power generation after the West Group is owned by AVIC’s early military enterprises enter the PV industry. And the rising focus on products, their role is to plant operations.

Compared to vicious competition and homogenization of serious PV market, solar thermal market has not yet begun to undergo a round of reshuffle, is a rare benign competition in the market. On one hand, too high a threshold so that only with the strength of the enterprise to be able to come in on the other, Government delayed price introduced, some bear enterprises have already left the market. According to Zhang Mingyuan Description: “a few years ago, production of trough type power tube manufacturers also have more than 10, but not so much now, is part of the reason is because the price of heat too late, they don’t adhere to the time. Tube as a core part, company cannot guarantee. ”

In fact, these military enterprises are willing to recognize them as a link of chain. “Heat is a relatively integrated market, industry chain technology, investment, design, construction, consulting, equipment supply, operation, service, and even the Meteorological Department, each business location is different, some enterprise specific, there are businesses doing the whole industrial chain. I think the industry has just now is up, do the whole industry chain is still relatively early, actually do the whole industrial chain, when industry has developed a mature model, then do the whole industrial chain. “The insiders said.

In the view of the industry: “the central equipment manufacture of military enterprises in the development of solar thermal industry with his incomparable advantages. As a military enterprise, with a large number of technical personnel reserve. Since satellite thin-film technologies, such as rising company after conversion, become a core trough power generation equipment–of tube technology. China Aerospace to build from upstream research and development, to the entire eco-system of the downstream sales market, and China Aerospace solid, has a large research team with funding to support the massive investment from light and heat. ”

But in military industrial enterprises into light and heat at the same time, there are many early gold rush in this round of gold rush subsided, even some businesses sadly quit, what a shame.

Perhaps the biggest loser was Hunan’s Xiangtan electric group. September 2011 in Hunan announced move into light and heat in a high profile industry. At the time, disc conversion efficiency was as high as 26.7%, is considered to be one of the most technical route for market prospects, xemc bought United States SBI company, AVIC announced after a foray into solar thermal industry, another disc to enter light heat most notable cross-border investors.

But a few years later, optimism has disappeared without a trace, Xiang Zhou Jianxiong, former Chairman after taking office his successor Liu Xiudao, hot passion reduced to light. Now, the whole assets being bought by high-tech venture capital group 100%.

Just in Hunan power group, AVIC is also military backgrounds, but also solar-thermal power generation industry and Hunan electric one. AVIC is located in Chuxiong, Yunnan, there were 50 20KW dish Stirling solar power installations. Originally expected in 2015 on-grid power generation. They have not test success, there is force majeure, owners are not professional.

Aero-engine aircraft industry strengths in technology research and development and manufacturing, to the core-the Stirling dish technology is good at, but only relatively mature “thermal transfer” link. That is gathered solar high temperature heat source, promoted Stirling engine power output. But “go hot” link, dish-Stirling solar installations through a parabolic reflector. Stirling engine as the core of photoelectric conversion devices need to withstand 800 ℃, 20MPa refrigerant pressures, leading to material damage bottleneck has been difficult.

“Into the light and heat to this strategic direction are not wrong, time is caught early, is a technology problem, second is implementation problem. “China aviation industry insiders lamented:” AVIC I Xian below one solar thermal Division of the group-level units, in many ways, there is no right of the Administrative Committee on coordination, superior and there is no enthusiasm. ”

Therefore, if only to position the dish practitioners fail high costs, insufficient returns, perhaps a little one-sided. Can be sure of is that most of the losers have experienced a process of blind confidence, but subsequent personnel lack of preparation, poor management, not professional background, an early light and heat problem was one of the triggers, exposed in a series of pilot projects.

Several people several people, pioneer practitioners of failure constantly warning came from behind, but this time, in installing photovoltaic and serious overcapacity, solar thermal industry return a unique reason.

Considerations of watchers

As an investor and owner, these prospectors cgnpg is the most “enthusiastic” business. In June 2015, cgnpc released delingha 50MW notch photothermal shine Project EPC bidding, and heat transfer of thermal energy storage systems EPC bidding.

Among them, the wider checks on specific experience qualification of bidders have very strict requirements. Bidders to submit bids before the deadline, at least in the past eight years of the trough solar thermal power plant contract contractors, subcontractors or management experience, and lowest power station installed capacity of 50MW, and the project ran successfully for more than 2 years at least. Visible behind the active layout, cgnpc seeks to stability of the heart.

Guangdong nuclear power is not the first person to eat crabs, cgnpc’s attitude reflects the moment people wanted stability and State of mind. Therefore, on the technical route selection, most practitioners choose a more stable Tower and trough. At Department of energy announce the list of solar thermal power generation demonstration projects showed that approved 20 demonstration projects, other than the disc, Tower has 9, channel 7, Fresnel-4, technology is also divided into three molten salt, oil and water quality.

Tower why more? Public information, focusing its high temperature, and molten salts combined theory and high efficiency. And the quantity is small, Tower like a concrete pillar, it had only one collector, unlike the trough, 50 MW there are 25,000 collector.

But the capital remains one of the challenges faced by thermal power stations, although from the perspective of policy, technology, solar thermal power stations seem to have all the advantages to attract capital. But some solar-thermal power station market still lacks funds, and even insiders, this batch of 20 demonstration projects, some have begun to seek transfers, or even reselling flagging an inkling.

“Domestic financial institutions have also been the worst effects of the PV manufacturing industry a few years ago. A new energy the first thought is to abandon the wind power, overcapacity, bankruptcy, not investment. We had to explain, essence of light and heat and thermal power, as more stable than solar, cleaner than power. “The General Manager of a private enterprise of the energy Journal reporters. After passing through the precipitation of PV, a lot of people are calm, many investors and investment in equipment also becomes rational.

People in the financial sector has its own point of view. “Financial capital is the most profit, investors consider three factors, price stability, whether the system is safe, market wide. At present, prices must be reduced in the future, reducing how many still don’t know; solar thermal power plant assets is true or not as quality as stated, otherwise there will be no such a big problem; now abandoned wind up as serious, who guarantees light and heat to dissolve? This is a question. ”

A bank financing persons said to reporters, “financing from the side reflecting solar-thermal power station itself there is some earnings risk, before the demonstration project successfully put into operation, financial industry concerns how much annual cost recovery. ”

Most of the practitioners are very calm, said a practitioner. Now feel electricity price is high, but the first photovoltaic electricity prices reached 20 Yuan at one time. Light and heat with the advantage of the conversion efficiency, but as the twins, PV efficiency is constantly improved, more than 10 years ago, PV efficiency up to do 11%, is now close to 20%. Industry insiders believe, high cost of solar thermal power generation is now evident, so how to exert the advantages of light and heat, especially high efficiency, heat transfer, conversion, and thermal storage technology?

Rising General Manager Chen Buliang said: “corporate money no, light and heat have great technical threshold. Like a mirror of the production, you can spend money from abroad to buy production line, now basically is purchases abroad, but really want to do is not easy, not to mention the tube. Investors worried the efficiency and life of equipment problems caused fluctuations in plant life. According to the collector, it focuses light intensity is very strong, very large temperature difference between hot and cold, no light will rapidly cool. So it’s working environment is very bad, very high standards for materials, which are facing challenges. ”

In addition to the breakthrough of techniques, the key is to find the balance between risk and reward, here comes power stations the size of the problem. According to light and heat a pioneer in Spain experience, Spain was following Government policy is 50 megawatts, is in the process of promoting one indicator. Later we began to study how big the unit is most suitable, now known to be between 100,000 to 200,000, different technologies will be different. Unit returns higher and higher, the stakes are high, but the efficiency is high.

Secondly, different technical route of solar-thermal power, which also vary widely. So, in these demonstration projects, with 50,000-kilowatt units and 100,000-kilowatt units are mostly 50,000-kilowatt is Spain’s experience, the investment is approximately around 1.5 billion, in fact, 100,000-kilowatt of the economy, also had the highest rate of return.

Different technical route to correspond to a different pattern, though condemned because of the high cost, China aviation industry insiders told reporters: “as if the disc is a small distribution system, he also has advantages, especially in off-grid areas. ”

Fortunately, most investors are already well prepared. “By 2020, electricity prices may also fall, as parts suppliers will have a big challenge: how to meet the needs of tomorrow’s market, quality, no high prices are not. We have a goal, 45, can achieve a better price, estimated at between seven to nine. “Chen Buliang said.

Technical challenge of landing

The past ten years while the solar-thermal power generation of numerous detours, also produced numerous failures, but it is the cultivation of China’s light industry for ten years. Domestic solar thermal power station technology experience used to self-creation process, and gradually realize the localization of core equipment.

25 period, the Ministry of science and technology set up solar thermal industry association, one of its work is to promote solar thermal technology innovation, including technology. At that time, domestic organized many expeditions to Spain and the United States learn from their advanced experience. As the core thermal equipment, because until now, solar thermal technology in China still have shadows abroad.

Because of the huge difference at home and abroad, technical floor was a long and difficult process. “Spain close to the equator, lighting conditions, and weather all year round, temperatures throughout the lingxiawudaosishidu; illumination delingha is also good, but there are sandstorms, heat most afraid of this thing. And whole area main to Gobi mainly, temperature can up minus 20, considering of more, and has very big of wind, so power station and consider can adapted Gale weather, adapted has Eastern Mediterranean climate of light hot technology got Equatorial to, foreigners also have adapted adapted, so, not said light sufficient on for do light hot, also has many meteorological information is industry chain Shang of a ring. “The insiders said.

Domestic and international understanding of the EPC are different. EPC is a foreign company, Chinese design institutes and construction companies, EPC was divided into owners. Once at a seminar on China and Spain had a heated argument, Spain said a EPC, but the Chinese repeatedly explained that the EPC is the owner of China, design institutes and construction company, not a concept.

In terms of technology choices, the practitioner needs to “efficiency”, “risk”, “price” on balance. If considering efficiency, selection of high risk Tower, Tower as long as a collector, but the collector requires life of 20 years, working the power plant could not operate. If stability, trough is relatively stable, a trough of 500,000-kilowatt power station 25,000 collector, bad can be changed directly, but less efficient than the tower. Fresnel, Spain did not succeed, and if successful, must be innovative.

The biggest challenge comes from systems integration. APPA Vice President Cui Menglong told journalists: “the core components of localization of key components should say no problem, mainly good system integration, how to package the technology, which is an examination of the rationality of the Design Institute, experience. Therefore, the Design Institute in the solar thermal industry plays a very important part. ”

Have insiders declined to tell reporters: “Delhi some businesses with both EPC and the identity of the owners, investors, professional it is hard to actually secure, delay some projects because the device does not appear in place, the key is integrated part of the lack of professional and manpower. All is well in the domestic, but domestic enterprises into the international, if delays in completion of the case, there will be punishment. ”

At present, the industry is recognized by Chinese energy group’s Northwest and North China designing Institute, two from lingji years begin to step in solar-thermal power generation, has more than 10 years of experience. Northwest hospital Zhao Xiaohui Dr told energy Reporter: “we do had PV also do had light hot, light hot is not like PV as simple understand process on can rush horse of, as a technology integrated type of new energy, and light hot power station on seems a Taiwan precision of instrument, by different technology package and into, on like decoration procurement different of material also need a good of decoration company design. ”

In trough power plants, for example, channel-type power generation through three main components – Sun Island, to save heat, the conventional island. Sun island is mainly focusing solar energy collector tube inside the medium to be heated to 400 degrees, provide heat, core components collector tubes, mirrors, and driver control, only three suppliers are involved here.

Trough power station, how focused the Sun’s light to 6 square meters above the 70 mm collector tube, mirrors can affect both the error for each point. But the decision error not just mirrors itself, and support quality, supports basic firmware is parabolic, to ensure the accuracy of assembled enough, but running, spring summer autumn winter seasons bracket not deformation, deformation will directly affect the efficiency.

In heat storage part, role of heat storage is storage for night of power generation and heat regulation. Equipment is molten salt tanks and molten salt thermal storage controllers, media use molten salts, namely industrial salts such as potassium nitrate, sodium nitrate, which is solid at room temperature powdered, but more than 200 degree becomes liquid, salt, heat a large, same volume it can store more heat, more suitable as a thermal storage medium. Specific heat of the salt is large, the same size it can store more heat. Manufacturing problems at home is not, however, determine the effect of heat is not the medium itself, but the quality of thermal storage tank. Heat storage tanks generally are required to ensure that 8-hour power of large thermal storage tank of hundreds of thousands of tons of salt, a night temperature is 8 degrees, so the quality is also very important to do absorb heat, avoiding heat-reflecting, absorbing radiation heat, convection and conduction of the process will lose heat. Pipe must be efficiently absorbed and transformed into heat, which is in the interests of efficiency services.

-Conventional island is relatively simple, including the turbine, generator and condenser, conventional Island determines the degree of true steam into electricity, determine system efficiency, and also determine the return on investment and cost. At present, Hangzhou steam turbine and other manufacturers have been able to independent production, conversion efficiency as well, such as GE, Siemens, but with competitive prices.

Starting point is the end?

The saying goes: big bang, and then decline, three-and Draconis, future success or failure of these 20 demonstration projects related to solar thermal industry’s life and death.

Seen from the interview results, solar thermal industry’s main challenge is not technology is immature, but solar-thermal power station itself to demanding quality requirements, similar to China’s space industry, almost no room for minor mistakes, which can explain noted above aviation, aerospace companies became an important industry player’s cause.

But despite the challenges, the majority, but business is still full of confidence, after all, from a business point of view, the current market environment is more rational and more mature, but the root cause is solar thermal technology in environmental protection or the stability of both photovoltaic and wind turbine does not have good genes. If it continues to develop, its rate of growth will be faster than photovoltaic, after all, in today’s chemical energy storage technology is not mature, and the stronger affinity of the grid. If the Chinese Government really wants to do this, must be successful, after all, the Shenzhou spacecraft are built out, had no solar-thermal power station?

Can be seen from demonstration projects, companies are also trying and innovation, not only in improving efficiency and reduce costs, but is on a combination of solar, thermal and, in order to achieve a level of regional Internet more smoothly and overseas have success stories of the tower and PV complement each other, domestic solar thermal complementation and light complementary notions of luck and raw coal.

Cui Menglong said: “the advantage based on thermal energy storage, solar thermal peak is a function of and, therefore, light and heat can be used as a solar well coordinated development. PV power station installed capacity now is large, small impact on the power grid may not reflect large scale impact on the power grid will be very strong. How to solve this problem? Germany PV installed capacity is large, the result becomes more dirty each PV power station with some coal-fired unit peaking, if we can make solar more clean, light and heat is a very good alternative. ”

Industry researcher Wang Hansong, told reporters: “the conversion of light into heat with high efficiency and heat into electric efficiency is not very high, so the heat not only broad applications in power generation, in the hot field of more valuable for development. Most obviously, we’ve been using solar water heaters, which is essentially a small solar thermal systems in some compound on the energy station has a very good application. ”

In the new energy sector, regardless of wind or photovoltaic power generation unit additional charge is required, so the northern parts of the country, still dominated by coal-fired power plants for winter heating, light and heat power generation and coal-fired power stations have similarities in principle, so the “hot” prospects even more.

The next period of time, all practitioners are bet on the fate of the 20 demonstration projects. From demonstration projects already completed, operators are generally safer to choose the trough and Tower power plant, there are senior research team set out to explore in the Fresnel. In the interview, journalists feel the meticulous spirit. Above the industry agreed that: “the Government’s policies are very exciting, can see the Government’s determination to promote solar thermal industry and, therefore, these demonstration projects will do it well, although the 20 projects may not be very good, but also to see which company is really interested in doing. There are two companies, one large, the other is a small business, maybe General Manager that is willing to do, but the strength is not enough. Expects such enterprises will emerge by the end of this year. ”

Original title: photo-thermal life and death choices

Posted in Solar Charger.