China Proposes to Streamline Solar Manufacturing Expansion

The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has issued a draft that proposes several guidelines for the manufacturing capacity of solar components in the country.

China is the largest manufacturer of solar products including, solar panels, solar modules, silicon wafers, and polycrystalline silicon.

The draft states that the implementation of these measures will help the solar photovoltaic manufacturing industry promote sustainable and healthy development. The move comes in the wake of overcapacity in the industry and falling installations in the country.

According to the draft, the production layout and facilities should comply with natural resource development and utilization. The manufacturing units need to adhere to the environmental aspects and energy-saving measures. It also mentions that the manufacturing units should not be constructed in areas close to industrial enterprises, and the government will also exercise strict control over manufacturing facilities that expand their production capabilities. The government will also guide solar manufacturing companies to improve product quality and reduce production costs.

The government wants the manufacturers to spend at least 3% of total sales and not less than RMB 10 million ($1.42 million) in research and development annually. The companies should focus on advanced technology and low production cost.

The draft also mentions that the average conversion efficiency of polycrystalline and monocrystalline modules should not be less than 19% and 22.5%, respectively.

The document further states that the average photoelectric efficiency of silicon-based copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS), cadmium telluride (CdTe), and other thin-film components should not be less than 13%, 16%, and 15%, respectively.

According to the document, the average power consumption of existing silicon ingot units should be less than 7.5 kWh/kg. For new units, it should be less than 6.5 kWh/kg if using a polycrystalline ingot furnace.

The average comprehensive power consumption of the crystalline silicon wafer unit should be less than 250,000 kWh/million wafers. For the news units and those undergoing renovation, it should be less than 200,000 kWh/million wafers.

The draft further notes that the average power consumption of crystalline silicon panel facilities should be less than 40,000 kWh/MW and the average power consumption of the membrane module units should be less than 500,000 kWh/MW.

As per the document, the companies should continue to carry out clean production audits. The newly constructed factories should meet the level 1 benchmark requirements as per the ‘Clean Production Evaluation Index System’ of the battery industry. The companies should also try and build green supply chains for procurement, production, marketing, recycling, and logistics.

The draft says that the government will encourage companies to stick to relevant standards of green manufacturing in the solar industry. The companies should conduct an environmental impact assessment according to the law and implement environment-friendly designs. The environmental management system of companies should be as per ‘Administrative Measures of Pollution Discharge Permits.’

The draft also mentions that the power warranty period should not be less than 25 years, and the material warranty period should not be less than 10 years.

The draft says that solar manufacturing projects should strictly implement safety facilities and occupational disease prevention measures and should abide by the ‘Safe Production Law.’

Recently, the National New Energy Consumption Monitoring and Early Warning Center announced the projected addition of new solar and wind power capacities in China in 2020. According to the announcement, China will add 85.1 GW of solar and wind capacity to its grid in 2020, which includes 35.1 GW of wind capacity and 48.45 GW of solar capacity.

These estimates are very aggressive, considering the slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In comparison, a forecast by consulting firm AECEA (pre-COVID) projected 23-31 GW of solar capacity to be deployed during 2020.

Earlier, China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) announced that it plans to provide subsidies of RMB 1.5 billion (~$216.1 million) for new solar power projects in the country this year, according to its ‘construction plan for photovoltaic power generation projects in 2020.’