The climate ambitions of the Chinese government are clear: the country must be climate neutral by 2060. Many Chinese companies are working hard to produce solar panels and the installations that go with them. However, to achieve its ambitious plans, China has no choice but to call in the help of foreign companies. One of them is EnergyVision, a manufacturer of industrial solar-energy installations in Ghent.
Going green, above all in industry
CEO Maarten Michielsen recently gave an interview on these ambitions and how an innovative Flemish company like EnergyVision could share in the benefits of this Chinese policy. Primarily, the transition that the government intends concerns massive green investments in the industrial sector, rather than solar panels on residential roofs. For private energy, the government still depends on electricity from coal. Chinese companies who continue to use coal and do not go green must pay more for their energy. Michielsen is certain that the Chinese government will do everything possible to achieve its climate-neutral ambition in 2060.
Cheap European funding
EnergyVision supplies China with solar panels worth 80 megawatts each year, which is five times more than its Belgian customers. It isn't easy, but Chinese customers can get very beneficial funding from European banks for European solar panels and, although these panels are more expensive, the terms of such loans are better than from a Chinese bank. In some parts of China, EnergyVision is hindered by market barriers, however, their solar panels with a better yield are then easily sold in other regions.
Batteries to store solar energy
Don't forget that innovation works both ways. Chinese companies are working like mad towards the mass production of storage batteries for solar energy. “Storing overcapacity in batteries is the holy grail in solar energy. I think that China will be successful within the next 2 years and that such batteries will then go into mass production. This will create a cost advantage in production, and competitive prices on the European market”, says Michielsen. “In Europe, we are still a long way off from achieving commercial profitability in batteries. China will be faster. Michielsen also confirms that additional European import taxes, like those introduced on solar panels, will do nothing to protect European manufacturers from dumping prices: “At the time, European Commissioner Karel De Gucht introduced a high dumping tax on Chinese solar panels. The Chinese built factories in Vietnam and the Philippines, and thus avoided the charges. Despite these noble efforts, all European pioneers in the solar-panel industry are now bankrupt. You can't compete with Asia on price, but you may succeed with something innovative, or in a niche like ours.”