Business / Industries

China's solar thermal market, room for growth

By Song Jingli ( Updated: 2012-06-20 17:08

The National Energy Administration (NEA) will set standards and issue supporting policies for solar thermal utilization in China, an NEA official said on June 20 in Beijing.

Compared with photovoltaic (PV) technologies, solar thermal technologies are not mature yet in China and standards are needed to streamline the market, said Shi Lishan, vice director of the New Energy and Renewable Energy Department of the NEA, at the 2012 International Summit On Medium & High Temperature Solar Thermal Utilization.

More power was generated by solar thermal facilities than by PV facilities in 2011 worldwide. Data from the International Energy Agency shows that 204.3 tWh of power was produced by solar thermal facilities, while only 70.2 tWh was generated by PV facilities.

China dominates the global solar thermal market by taking up 64 to 69 percent of the existing solar heating and cooling capacity, said Yin Zhiqiang, a professor at Tsinghua University's Department of Electric Engineering and also the chief scientist of Tsinghua Solar Systems Ltd. But most of the heating capacity in China comes from solar water heaters, Yin said, adding that the industrial solar heating market is underdeveloped in China.

In 2010, China's paper making, food, tobacco, wood, chemical, pharmaceutical, textile, plastics industries consumed 450 million tons of standard coal equivalent, mainly for heating or drying, according to Hu Runqing, a scholar with the Energy Research Institute of National Development and Reform Commission.

She added that, if 10 percent of the energy demanded by these eight industries comes from the sun, 300 to 400 million square meters of heat collectors will be needed.

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