China’s Plan For Solar World Domination: The ‘Top Runner’ Program

Chinese dude holding a solar cell

China’s Solar Top Runner Program – What The Hell Is It?

China is the world leader when it comes to manufacturing and installing solar panels.  [Read more…]

SMA’s Sunny Boy: Under The Hood. Chinese vs German Manufacturing

chinese and german sma sunny boy

2 x 5kW SMA Sunny Boy Inverters. One made in China (SMA SB 5.0-1AV-40), one made in Germany (SB5000TL-21). How do they compare?

SMA have released a new single phase inverter. They kept the same joyful name of “Sunny Boy” however the model has changed from what was known as the “dash 21” to the “dash 40”.

But let me tell you a well-known secret about the SMA “dash 40”. The respected German manufacturer is manufacturing these new SMA inverters in China.

Bombshell.

Has this turned the single phase model of SMA inverters into a cheap Chinese inverter? To find out, I bought myself a 5kW Chinese-built SMA “dash 40” and pulled it apart to compare it to the 5kW German made “dash 21”.

In this post, I’ll first look at the external features: the “smart screen”, the Sunny Home Manager, and the inbuilt DC isolator.

Then I’ll look at the internal build quality, and where the different components are manufactured. Finally, we’ll discuss the after sales service and warranty of SMA. [Read more…]

SunPower And SMA Choose To (Very Discreetly) Manufacture In China

 

sma sunpower Chinese welcome

High end manufacturers SunPower And SMA have chosen to manufacture in China. But they aren’t exactly advertising the fact.

China produces far more solar panels, far more solar inverters, and god knows how many more batteries than any other country in existence.  China has been called the workshop of the world1 and has repeatedly shown itself to be capable of producing high quality, reliable goods. [Read more…]

Footnotes

  1. The United States has been called the arsenal of democracy.  I can’t deny the US appears to have more than its fair share of arsenals.

GCL’s E-KwBe Battery, Or Something Similar, Will Change The World

gcl e-kwbe battery

The GCL E-Kwbe battery may be unpronounceable – but it may also save the world. Kind of.

GCL, a large Chinese company, has unveiled a new lithium-ion energy storage system at a price point that some consider to be shocking. Called the EKwBe, it has a seven year warranty, a ten year expected lifespan, and comes in two varieties. A 2.5 kilowatt-hour system that wholesales excluding GST for $1,499 and a larger 5.6 kilowatt-hour system that wholesales for $2,999.  This is the lowest price that has been offered for any comparable energy storage system and I believe that it, or something similar, has the potential to change the world.

Update: 1st December 20016.  The GCL EKWBE battery currently appears to be retailing for around $3,600 inc GST.  This doesn’t give it a cost per warranted kilowatt-hour as low as the announced Tesla Powerwall 2, but it will be interesting to see if GCL will cut its price further in response once the Powerwall 2 is actually available for installation.

GCL E-KwBe Specs
Usable Capacity 2.5 kWh / 5.6 kWh
Output Power 1.5 kW / 3 kW
Weight 25kg / 50kg
Type Lithium Nickel Cobalt Manganese (Li-NCM).
Installation Location indoors or outdoors
Operating Temperature Range -20° to 50° Celsius
How's it hanging? Wall Mounted
Maximum Units Working In Unison 8
Warranty 7 years
Expected Lifespan 10 years
Compatible Inverters Goodwe, SMA, Sungrow
[Read more…]

China puts faith in large-scale concentrating solar power as world watches

solar tower

A solar tower – similar to one of the 6 to be built in the Gobi desert

China was in the renewable energy news again this week though this time it wasn’t about the latest in solar panel technology or trade disputes. For the big (read huge) story was Chinese regional media reporting the start of construction of the country’s first large-scale concentrating solar power (CSP) plant.

To be carved out of 2550 hectares of the Gobi desert, the plant will use two 135 MW solar thermal plants in its first phase, with enough thermal energy storage to power half a million (!) homes in Qinghai Province.  [Read more…]

Uncertainty grows as solar panel anti dumping report delayed again

solar panels and a no dumping sign

Will the next Great Big Tax, be on cheap Chinese solar panels?

The long-delayed anti-dumping investigation into Chinese solar panels is having the desired effect of disrupting the solar industry in Australia, whatever the outcome.

Desired that is by the fossil fuel giants and their fans in federal politics.

One sure way to kill a fledgling industry is to manufacture uncertainty. Such has been the case with government support in the solar power industry. The on again, off again support mechanisms and half-hearted policies in general seem designed to keep the solar sector in a semi-permanent state of uncertainty. This has the effect of killing off investments because of the inability to guarantee investors a future “level playing field”.

Of course this is a lucrative strategy if you happen to have a heavy investment in fossil fuels. [Read more…]

Fairfax Article Beating Up The Solar Industry is Scaremongering (but Greg Hunt still fell for it)

article screenshot

The Fairfax article published on 22 Feb 2015

The Fairfax papers’ coverage of the solar industry is usually spot on. But I think the latest article by Political Reporter Heath Aston is way off mark.

Greg Hunt must have salivated all over his iPad as he read the article yesterday morning. I can see him dribbling with delight at the rampant tales of rorted rebates and shonky solar systems.  And surprise, surprise: within a few hours of the article going live, Hunt announced:

“The poor installation of solar PV or installation of substandard solar PV has the potential to lead to fires with risks to property and human life. I’m sure you would agree that it is absolutely imperative that all panels installed must be of high quality and pose absolutely no threat to safety.”

I would like to ask Hunt how he thinks that it is possible to mandate that a piece of electrical equipment must “pose absolutely no threat to safety”. [Read more…]

The importance of China for our solar sector in 2015

chinese solar panelWhen we look at the year ahead for renewable energy, and try to divine the development of the Australian solar market, one of the first conclusions is the importance of neighbouring countries. I’m talking here of the continued role China plays in solar energy in Australia.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that cheap, quality solar panels from China have driven the domestic demand for solar panels in Australia. Despite wide open spaces for solar farms and abundant sun, Australia is lagging behind the rest of the world in renewable energy. We haven’t taken our rightful position as one of the leaders in the world in developing large scale renewable energy as we should. [Read more…]

Australian leaders lurch further out of step on renewables

abbott and renewables

Abbott wants to stand up for poor, downtrodden, powerless coal. It’s good for humanity don’t you know. Unlike that nasty renewable stuff.

A very significant week in Australian renewable energy politics with the historic agreement between China and the United States on reducing emissions at the recent APEC summit in Beijing.

Significant for Australia because the ideological campaign against renewables (let’s call it for what it is) used to be heavily based around the fact that we were the leaders in cutting emissions while the rest of the world waited. The argument went that by taking such a leadership role, our industry was suffering. [Read more…]

Chinese Sopray, Risen and ET solar panels come top in German testing.

chinese panels and a trophy

China win #1 solar panel for 2013 (although US firm Sunpower was robbed!)

Hot off the German Press: industry bible Photon Magazine has announced the winners of its 2013 solar panel test. Basically, a bunch of Germans in white coats mount a gazillion solar panels in a field in Germany and measure their power output over 12 months.

At this point I must point out that 3 separate Sunpower models would have won all of the top 3 spots, but they had to remove them from the table due to a testing machine malfunction…so it is by no means a totally fair test. But it is useful to see which brands perform well despite this rare cock up from our German friends.

So here here are the top 20 for 2013: [Read more…]