SNEC opens with call for global cooperation

Industry leaders opened the 2016 SNEC International Photovoltaic Power Generation Conference and Exhibition in Shanghai with a call to deepen global collaboration.

John Smirnow, secretary general of the Global Solar Council (GSC), said that one of the organisation’s key priorities is to help develop global standards for the PV industry. 

“We’re going to be involved,” he said, noting that the GSC now represents more than 40 national-level industry associations throughout the world.

“Think of the value of that network; think of the collaborative opportunity that we have to collect and disseminate information.”

Jifan Gao, co-chairman of the GSC and chairman of Trina Solar, said that the COP21 climate talks in Paris — where the GSC was launched — firmly positioned renewables under the spotlight as part of the solution to global warming.

“We need a global perspective,” he said, claiming that the GSC — which plans to aggressively lobby on behalf of the global PV industry at the G20 summit in the Chinese city of Hangzhou this September — will have a “significant influence” on future development.

“Solar will become a major energy source throughout the world,” Gao said. “But we still face challenges in China.”

One such challenge is the curtailment of PV-generating capacity from the national grid, which is becoming a “serious problem,” according to Shi Dinghuan, chairman of the Chinese Renewable Energy Society (CRES).

Approximately 19,000GWh of potential solar electricity generation went to waste in China in the first quarter of 2016, according to the National Energy Administration (NEA).

“The energy revolution is a gradual process,” Shi said, noting other issues plaguing China’s solar industry, such as delayed payments of subsidies to developers, and the need to reform the country’s renewable energy legislation to address such challenges.

“We have to deploy PV in every area of life,” he said, pointing to opportunities to utilise solar in a diverse range of industries, from transportation to agriculture and fisheries.

However, Shi argues that the Chinese government will need to be consistent with the implementation of its policies to hit its cumulative installation target of 150-200GW under the 13th Five Year Plan (2016-2020).

Pranav Mehta, chairman of the National Solar Federation of India, believes that countries such as China and India should team up to help policymakers in developing countries to kick-start their own markets.

“There’s a lot of collaboration needed internationally — especially in those countries which have new solar policies,” he told Recharge, pointing to African countries such as Ethiopia.

But companies also have an important role to play in ensuring that global collaboration drives the future of the industry, according to Shaw Qu, chairman and CEO of Canadian Solar.

“I’ve never seen Canadian Solar as a purely Chinese company,” Qu said. “With a global identity, innovation comes naturally.”