Solar energy batteries are booming in China

November 10, 2022

Solar farm in China

 

The solar energy battery market has got much attention in China in recent years, being a fast-growing industry in renewable energy. In short, a solar energy battery is a semiconductor sheet that uses sunlight to instantly generate electricity, it is sometimes also referred to as “solar chip” or “photovoltaic cells”. The batteries can instantly generate electricity when illuminated under certain conditions.

Following the focus on environmental protection and execution of the dual carbon goals policies, China’s State Council, the National Development and Reform Commission, Energy Bureau, and other related departments have issued policies to support the development of the solar energy battery industry.

In this article, we go into greater detail and review why the solar energy battery market is exploding in China, and what opportunities this brings.

Increasing Demand for Solar Energy Batteries in Europe

Europe has grappled with energy problems and is eager to expand its solar energy capacity. This was particularly noticed during the energy crisis in 2022. Renewable energy sources such as nuclear and hydropower accounted for over 40% of Europe’s total energy supply in 2021. Yet deterioration of wind conditions coupled with weather anomalies such as drought all drove the demand for traditional energy sources like natural gas and coal.

With the termination of Russia’s natural gas supply and the gradual implementation of various environmental policies, Europe is in dire search of a sustainable energy solution.

Higher electricity costs

Since Russia’s natural gas supply was cut to Europe, electricity prices have broken new records as days go by. European governments began taking drastic measures to limit energy consumption, such as Germany’s efforts to ban outdoor lighting in buildings and reduce indoor heating temperatures, and the UK regulators raised the energy price cap by 80% in early October.

Soaring energy prices have also resulted in surging food prices, supply bottlenecks, and post-pandemic recovery efforts, which all led to expanded price pressures and inflation in recent months.

Below you can find a graph that shows the electricity price increase in Europe until September 2022.

Graph showing European wholesale electricity prices

Increased demand for renewable products in factories

Despite tax rates and additional costs arising from overseas sales channels, demands for renewable energy products such as photovoltaic products have remained hot in Europe. Solar Energy reported that more than 3,000 households had rooftop photovoltaic installed each week by the end of August 2022, three-folding what was three years ago.

Chinese photovoltaic exports have reached new heights, where the country’s exports for the first eight months of 2022 already exceeded the previous year’s volume of 35.77 billion USD. It is estimated that Europe will take up to 50% of China’s total photovoltaic exports in 2022, a percentage previously dominated by Asia & Pacific countries.

“It is currently the “cheapest way to generate electricity”, said Mr. Zhang, a director of a leading photovoltaic firm in China, “as the European market has become increasingly sensitive to price changes”.

Price fluctuations

Graph showing weekday hourly electricity prices

As Europe is coping with electricity price fluctuations, differences in electricity prices at various hours of the day also took a toll on many households. Mornings and evenings of the weekdays, between the hours 7:00 – 9:00 and 17:00 – 20:00, are among the periods with the most energy consumption, where electricity rates during those hours would record an increase of 100% compared to hours with minimum energy consumption.

Strong Chinese Supply Chain Eco-System

China’s photovoltaic industry started around 2005, driven by European market demand. The industry has developed rapidly, where explosive industry growth has been demonstrated since 2013 following the rigorous introduction of national and regional to boost the photovoltaic industry.

China’s photovoltaic industry has already surpassed the growth stage – subsidy policies have exited, and industrial growths have matured from a policy-driven to a market-driven stage. China’s photovoltaic production accounted for over 3/4 of the global photovoltaic module output in 2022’s first half.

Graph showing China solar cell production

Rapid Development of Solar Energy Battery Supply Chains

A series of supportive policies launched by the Chinese government has made the solar energy battery industry a fast-growing industry in the new energy sector. In 2009, China implemented investment subsidies to conduct bidding for large-scale photovoltaic power plants. In 2016, the central government issued the “Thirteenth Five-Year Plan for the Development of Solar Power Generation”, setting a target that the installed capacity of solar power generation to reach more than 110 million kilowatts in 2020. To add further catalyst to the industry, the government has actively encouraged rooftop photovoltaic products for self-generation, self-use, and large-scale power stations.

As the world’s largest solar power industry chain cluster and product exporter, China has a rich application market, a good investment environment, and the most photovoltaic patents. China’s photovoltaic industry has a complete industrial chain from upstream crystalline silicon production to midstream high-efficiency solar cell production to downstream solar photovoltaic power station construction and application.

The market concentration of industry suppliers for the photovoltaic industry is high in China, where dozens of large-scale photovoltaic industrial parks are mostly found in Jiangsu, Hebei, Shandong, Zhejiang, and Anhui provinces. Listed companies include Tongwei, LONGi, Zhongli Group, and JA Technology are among the top photovoltaic producers in China.

Summary

With the gradual advancement of China’s “carbon neutral” and “carbon peak” plans, China’s solar energy battery industry will experience rapid development in 2022. Chinese suppliers must continue to reduce costs and increase efficiency and optimize their profit structure further. It is necessary to increase investment in technological innovation and enhance core competitiveness to ensure the supply of domestic and international markets.

Many opportunities are also presented in China’s solar energy battery industry. With promising factors such as positive policy programs, strong market response, and an increase in demand for solar energy batteries from the European market, there is a foreseeable trend that solar energy battery technologies will gradually replace shares of energy production from traditional power generation methods.


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