Monday, November 16, 2009

Ministry of Finance Releases Specific List of 'Golden Sun' Recipients

Ever since the NDRC slammed on the Ministry of Finance for prematurely releasing the Solar Rooftop Program announcement earlier this year, I take MoF press releases with a grain of salt. I like to wait until confirmed by other government organs before completely trusting the information.

The ministry first announced it had selected the projects last Friday, it wasn't until today that it posted on its website the project guidelines and provided the list of developers and the size and location of each project.

The released list contains 275 projects, not the 294 initially announced. There also is a link to a Word document that spells out some technical guidelines, including pricing for crystalline and thin-film solar equipment.

The ministry first announced the Golden Sun initiative in July this year, characterizing it as a demonstration program to promote renewable energy generation and create a domestic market for its solar cell and panel manufacturers. These manufacturers, such as Suntech Power, Yingli Green Energy, JA Solar and Trina Solar, export most of their goods to Europe and North America.

In that July announcement, the government said it would subsidize no less than 500 megawatts of installations, which the projects would need to spread across the country and benefit both residents and businesses that are on and off the grid.

The ministry said it expects all of these projects to be completed within three years.

It also has spelled out some technology and pricing requirements for these projects. Prices to be paid for crystalline silicon panels should be no higher RMB 14 ($2) per watt. The ceiling for amorphous silicon panels is RMB 9 ($1.32) per watt.

Monocrystalline silicon panels must have at least 15 percent efficiency. The minimum efficiency for multicrystalline panels would be 14 percent and 6 percent for amorphous silicon thin films.

The government also wants guaranteed energy output of each solar energy system at the two-year, 10-year and 25-year mark. Developers could use other types of thin films, concentrating photovoltaic and other solar technologies, but they must show success stories about using these technologies.

The majority of the projects would be installed at industrial and commercial operations, where the solar electricity would be used onsite. Another eighteen projects could be off-grid installations.

The remaining 35 projects would be large power plants that would feed the electricity to the grid.

The government also has discussed creating a feed-in tariff, which would allow solar power plant operators to sell electricity at government-set, premium prices.

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