Despite its Booming Industry, China's Solar Panels Aren't Performing
Last month, we discussed the uncertainty of the future of solar energy in China. While it’s still murky overall, this week, there’s a bit if a clearer outlook.
Unfortunately, it’s not a particularly positive one.
While the country has bet on solar to eventually replace its vast coal industry, the solar boom is looking as though it may turn into a solar bust.
By the end of 2013, China had installed 19.5 GW of solar, though that’s number isn’t lining up with the amount of solar operating in the country.
Ji Zhenshuang, deputy director at the Beijing-based China General Certification Center, told Scientific American that “many solar installations failed to generate as much electricity as planned.” He did not provide specifics, but noted that the issue was certainly a significant one as the percentage was not small.
Across the industry in China, there is little data about how it’s actually functioning. Many experts aren’t surprised at the results being speculated upon.
"[The performance issue] definitely exists," Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, told Scientific American. "Since so many solar panels were produced here in such a short time, it is hard to imagine that there is no quality problem."
The industry has exploded in only a decade and many believe that it’s taking a quantity over quality approach.
The government is expected to issue guidelines next month in order to address the issue and help the industry along.
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.