China Industry: Sept. 10

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Sept. 10 – This is a regular series of relevant industry news from around China.

Solar power
Shi Zhengrong, founder and chief executive of Chinese solar giant Suntech Power backtracked on last week’s statement that his company had cut solar panel prices in the United States below production cost, saying he misunderstood a reporter’s question.

The remarks, quoted by the New York Times, sparked a controversy in the solar market as it appeared the firm was selling at a loss to buoy up its presence on the U.S. market as the industry is dogged by oversupply and sliding prices.

Top executives of German solar firms SolarWorld and Conergy even called for tariffs to be imposed on panels imported from China and a “Buy European” scheme modelled on the “Buy America” campaign of U.S. president Barack Obama to safeguard the European industry.

Shi told the newspaper in a follow-up story that Suntech’s U.S. price actually “more than covered the production costs and therefore was above the marginal cost” but high administrative costs were a burden. Despite having waded in red ink in the United States since 2005, the company could swing to a profit next year if it pulls off better sales, he said.

It may be struggling to clean up its U.S. operations, but Suntech is hot on the heels of German solar powerhouse Q-Cells jeopardizing its spot as the world’s largest photovoltaic (PV) cells supplier, second only to U.S.-based First Solar

Chinese multi-crystalline solar wafers maker LDK Solar today said that it will develop up to 300 MW of PV projects in the Suqian city, province of Jiangsu, eastern China.

The company has reached an agreement with the city of Suqian, where it will develop rooftop, ground-mounted and building integrated PV systems by 2015.

The terms, covering financing, design and location of each of the projects, is subject to a feasibility study. In addition, every project will have to be approved by relevant governmental departments.

Earlier in August, LDK Solar announced that it has won a contract to install up to 500 MW of capacity of PV stations over the next five years in the Yancheng city of Jiangsu Province.

Both agreements follow the Chinese government so-called Golden Sun subsidy scheme, approved last month. Under the scheme, the government is to cover half the development costs for the grid-connected and up to 70 percent of the costs for off-grid solar power installations in a strive to develop over 500 MW of solar power within three years.

Nanjing-based solar cells maker China Sunergy has opened talks to renegotiate the supply deal with Norwegian monocrystalline silicon wafers supplier REC SiTech AS, a division of solar energy group Renewable Energy.

The Chinese company said Friday that the supply contract, originally signed on June 25, 2008, required REC SiTech to deliver its monocrystalline 156-millimeter wafers, worth over US$400 million from 2009 through 2015.

However, the rapid changes in the European polysilicon supply market since the fourth quarter of 2008, forced Sunergy to renegotiate the terms of the supply agreement with its raw material supplier REC.

The Chinese Ministry of Land and Resources will expand the development of geothermal power in the country over the next five years, the news portal of China Central Television reported today quoting a press release of the ministry.

According to the board, China possesses over 1,000 geothermal energy fields, while only a quarter of them have been developed. The utilization of all possible geothermal power could avoid annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 25 million tons (55 billion pounds).

Known as a coal-dependent country, China is committed to derive 10 percent of the China’s energy supply from renewable sources by 2010 and 15 percent by 2020. In order to achieve the target, the country’s government has recently introduced feed-in tariffs for new onshore wind farms and a Golden Sun subsidy scheme for PV project developments. In addition, the government bets on giant hydropower capacities such as the Three Gorges dam.

U.S. solar power products maker Evergreen Solar yesterday officially broke ground on its 100 MW solar wafers factory in Wuhan, mideastern China.

The plant, under construction since July 2009, is being built by Evergreen’s Chinese partner — solar power products maker Jiawei Solar Co. Evergreen Solar will lease the facility and produce there its patented String Ribbon solar wafers.

For its part, Jiawei will use the wafers to make solar panels under the Evergreen Solar brand. Construction is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2010.

In August, Evergreen Solar said that it would invest US$17 million in the Wuhan wafers factory, while the Wuhan Government’s Hubei Science & Technology Investment will provide US$33 million of 7.5 percent financing, which Evergreen Solar must repay no later than July 2014.

Chinese solar cells maker China Sunergy said yesterday it has inked a series of sales contracts with Australia-based NUE PTY. Under the terms of the deal, China Sunergy will deliver a total of 10 MW of monocrystalline solar modules, which are manufactured under sub-contracted OEM arrangement, to NU Energy. The deal is expected to be completed by early 2010.

China-based PV products manufacturer Jinko Solar said yesterday it has started making a 180 W PV solar module. The company said that its move fulfills its vertical integration transformation from the production of silicon wafers to solar systems. The company expects its production capacity to reach approximately 400 MW by the end of 2009.

Chinese PV cells and modules maker Solarfun Power Holdings said today that its wholly-owned subsidiary Jiangsu Linyang Solarfun has secured a RMB400 million credit facility with Bank of Shanghai, RMB300 million of which will be in the form of a three-year loan. Solarfun’s president Peter Xie said that the money will support the company’s growth.

China’s wind power producer Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Wednesday said it would seek to sell 15 percent in a share offering in Hong Kong. According to state media this is the first move by a company floated on the Small and Medium Enterprise Board of the Shenzhen stock exchange to list in Hong Kong.

The company did not specify the amount it would raise with the issue, but given the price of its stock in Shenzhen, 15 percent of its capital is worth about RMB7.66 billion.

The offer is to be wrapped up within 12 months after shareholders give it the green light, the company said, adding the funds raised would go to finance three projects in the country and add to Goldwind’s working capital.

Chinese PV products maker Trina Solar said yesterday it has launched the “Trina Solar Center For Excellence” in a bid to ensure quality assurance and precision testing of its PV modules.

The center is located at the company’s headquarters in Changzhou and covers some 7,200 square meters of indoor and outdoor testing space. The Center For Excellence features a range of tests including product certification processes, material reliability tests for module products, highly accelerated stress tests and material evaluation and research.

Worried about excess capacity and redundant projects, the Chinese government is mulling over stepping in to guide the development of its burgeoning wind power sector.

Proposed restrictions in lending and land use, coupled with more stringent licence requirements, are expected to placate fears of poor returns and loan defaults from the spate of projects that flooded the industry to cash in on the government’s massive stimulus package.

Analysts have played down concerns that the move would cut the competitive edge of the world’s largest renewable energy powerhouse.
A gaggle of domestic producers supplying lower-cost wind turbine makers have quashed competition from foreign manufacturers, according to European business leaders.

“The government has felt obliged to get contracts to these companies and exclude foreign companies,” says Joerg Wuttke, president of the EU Chamber of Commerce in China. Mind-boggling growth has left the market’s top ten manufacturers with enough capacity to hit China’s target of 100 GW of wind energy by 2020, show estimates by an unidentified foreign-invested company.

Xavier Chen, vice-president of BP China, points to cost as the main selection criteria for national projects, adding that the government should adopt new requirements if it is to draw in more foreign companies.

Chinese Anwell Technologies, a supplier of manufacturing equipment for the optical disc and solar industries, will have ramped up its capacity for production of amorphous silicon thin-film solar panels to 120 MW by the end of 2010.

The company baked last week its first amorphous silicon thin-film solar panel at a 40 MW manufacturing facility in Henan, mideastern China. Having achieved this milestone, Anwell plans to start mass production by the first quarter of 2010.

The production equipment at the plant was built from scratch using Anwell’s proprietary technologies for the production processes of amorphous silicon thin-film solar panel including plasma-enhanced chemical vapour deposition equipment, a vital element for low-cost-per-watt solar panel manufacturing.

Air transport
Taiwanese Eva Airways Corporation posted a TW$1.68 billion net loss, or TW$0.43 per share, for the six months ended June 30, 2009, compared to a net loss of TW$5.97m, or TW$1.53 per share, for the same period in 2008, as the air carrier’s cost of fuel decreased by 55 percent. The company’s revenue decreased by 29.5 percent to TW$32.61 billion.

China Southern Airlines Company has entered into an agreement with China Unicom, Xinhua News Agency reported last Friday. Under the terms of the deal, the telecomunications company will serve as China Southern’s long-term telecom services provider. The two companies will collaborate on landline and mobile voice services, data, video conferencing, etc.

China-based Xiamen Airlines intends to introduce approximately 50 aircraft between 2010 and 2015, SinoCast Transportation Beat reported. The air carrier and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China inked an agreement on 26 August, under the terms of which the bank will provide US$40 million as a loan to Xiamen Airlines. The latter will use the money to purchase a B737-800 aircraft.

China Southern Airlines Company will launch a direct flight between Taipei in Taiwan and Harbin in China’s Heilongjiang province, from September 1, China Knowledge Press reported. The new service will cut four hours off the current eight-hour flight and is expected to boost tourism in Heilongjiang province.
China Southern H1 ’09 net profit slumps 95.3 percent year on year.

China Southern Airlines Company posted a RMB38 million first-half net profit, 95.3 percent lower than a year earlier, under Chinese accounting standards. Total traffic revenue fell 9.8 percent to RMB23.6 billion. Total traffic volume soared 1 percent. The number of passengers reached 30.95 million, an increase of 10.7  percent while passenger revenue fell 7.7 percent to RMB22.44 billion.

Today marks the beginning of direct passenger flights between Shanghai and Taipei, Taiwan, Thai News Service reported. The number of flights between the two cities will thus be increased by 10 to 56 a week.

Air China will operate six flights a week while China Eastern Airlines  operates ten, China Southern Airlines will operate five, Shanghai Airlines will operate seven, and Taiwanese air carriers will operate 28 flights.

China Eastern Airlines Corporation will connect Nagoya, in Japan’s Aichi Prefecture, and Nanjing, China, with two regular flights every week, Kyodo News reported. The exact date of the service’s launch has not yet been set.

China Eastern Airlines Corporation has received an A320 aircraft, the fourth made by the assembly line of Airbus A320 airplanes in Tianjin, SinoCast Transportation Beat reported.

The air carrier now operates 147 Airbus aircraft, 107 of which Airbus A320. The assembly line in Tianjin, north China, is scheduled to launch 11 A320 series airplanes in 2009; seven A320 and four A319.

China Mobile Communication Corporation, the parent company of China Mobile and Hainan Airlines Group have entered into a strategic cooperation, Xinhua’s China Economic Information Service reported. The two companies will cooperate on IT applications, communication and 3G services. China Mobile and Hainan Airlines will also cooperate on mobile information services in the fields of tourism, logistics and finance.

China National Aviation Fuel intends to construct a jet fuel stockpiling base in the Pudong district of Shanghai, Asia Pulse reported. The 300,000 cubic meter project is scheduled for completion within the next two or three years. The first phase of the project will be able to hold 140,000 cu m.

Germany-based airport owner and operator Fraport AG intends to attract additional budget air carriers after the launch of its new runway in 2011, Dow Jones International News reported, citing an interview of WirtschaftsWoche with the company’s CEO Stefan Schulte. The company will also look to direct flights to large Chinese cities, Schulte said.

Shenzhen Airlines has initiated a return flight from Quanzho, Fujian Province, to Manila in the Philippines, China Hospitality News reported. The air carrier will fly on this route four times a week, starting September 21. The new service also marks the first international route from Quanzhou, Jinjiang Airport.

Renewables
The Asian Development Bank said it will provide up to US$200 million in loans to waste treatment firm China Everbright International to build waste-to-energy projects in China, which plans to turn 30 percent of its trash into power by 2030.

The line of credit will comprise two US$100 million loans with a maturity of up to ten years, which will be disbursed by local banks, with ADB acting as the lender of record. Solid waste treatment is a daunting environmental issue in China, which belches out 140 million tons a year at an annual growth rate of a formidable 10 percent. Almost half of the refuse is dumped on landfills, creating severe risks for the population, ADB warned.

“Waste-to-energy processing with clean technology is the most effective method of treating municipal solid waste since it slashes waste volumes by 90 percent and eliminates methane gas emissions from the waste treatment process,” said ADB investment specialist Hisaka Kimura.

China Everbright has a number of waste-to-energy plants up and running in China, claiming its US$137 million project sprawled on 3.2 square kilometers in the southwestern city of Suzhou is the nation’s largest.

This industry report brief is courtesy of Aii Data Processing.

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