In an interview with SBS Chinese, Xuyang Dong, an energy analyst at the independent think tank Climate Energy Finance, explained that China’s large-scale production capabilities enable it to occupy the “most dominant” position in the global new energy supply chain.
“China mass-produces cheap components and then exports cheap, high-quality solar cells.”
Dong believes that the rapid development of China’s photovoltaic industry cannot be separated from strong and clear policy promotion. Although Australia cannot deploy the new energy industry through similar “hard planning”, it can also implement policies to guide industrial development.
Solar pioneers are exploring ways to replace conventional silicon solar panels with lighter and more efficient solar cells printed on flexible plastic films to disprove the thesis that Australia “doesn’t do” advanced manufacturing.
Energy analyst at independent think tank Climate Energy Finance, Xuyang Dong, said clear policy targets had helped led China to yield more than 80 per cent of the world’s solar manufacturing capacity.
She said Australia had the opportunity to capitalise on the manufacturing of emerging solar technologies through similar “hard” policy planning.
“China’s central government sets energy goals, such as its renewable energy development targets in the 14th Five-Year Plan, which compels state-owned energy enterprises to undergo transformations in line with these policies. It’s not a recommendation, it’s a compulsory command,” Dong said.
Tim Buckley said Tuesday’s blackout shows why it is important the energy market diversify, particularly as climate change escalates and extreme weather becomes more extreme and more frequent.
“Our power system needs to factor this in as part of sensible adaptation. Victoria, like Australia, is on notice. We need to plan and build in energy system resilience as a key priority, and invest in a modern, flexible grid that is future-proofed,” he said.
Buckley added that thermal coal power plants were not part of that solution, instead they were the problem.
“Australia’s world-leading distributed rooftop solar and battery residential systems can be built in a day, or for commercial properties, a month, at speed and scale,” he said.
Recent blackout crisis in Victoria is caused by a decade of inaction by the Coalition government in addressing climate and energy policy. The blackout was caused by storm damage to power lines, leading to the shutdown of coal-fired generators, which contributed to a third of the state’s power supply being lost. Tim Buckley argues that a lack of investment in transitioning the grid to renewable energy sources, such as rooftop solar and battery storage, has left the energy system vulnerable to such crises. Urging for a shift towards decentralized, decarbonized, and renewable energy solutions, the article emphasizes the need for state and federal cooperation and investment in a modern, resilient energy grid.
“The result is that China has a dramatically larger capacity to export solar modules as 2024 and 2025 unfold, and the resulting global oversupply is pushing [solar] module prices down dramatically,” said Tim Buckley, Sydney-based director of Climate Energy Finance.
China’s export prices of modules have halved, and their efficiencies have improved dramatically because of investments in research and development, he said.
“All of this is increasing the commercial viability of solar relative to alternative sources of electricity, both within China and in the wider Asian markets and globally,” Buckley said. Though its early days, China should be able to leverage its leadership with trade partners in Asia, Africa and South America, he added.
Climate Energy Finance’ Tim Buckley,: “The NSW government’s decision on whether to extend the life of Eraring coal fired power plant, Australia’s biggest, beyond its planned closure date of August 2025 at taxpayers’ expense, ostensibly to ensure supply, will be a hot button issue this year and has national implications for energy transition.”
He estimates the cost of keeping all four Eraring units operating for another two years would be $300m to $400m. “There is no reason why the government would pay that subsidy” when “there is more than enough firmed renewables capacity in the pipeline” of development in NSW to offset Eraring’s closure.
A surge in renewable energy generation and battery storage projects will allow Eraring power
station to close in mid-2025, a new analysis says.
The report The Lights Will Stay On: NSW Electricity Plan 2024-2030, produced by think tank
Climate Energy Finance, shows an unprecedented number of clean energy projects have come
online over the past six months.
A report from a climate finance think-tank says there’s now an even stronger case for closing Australia’s largest coal-fired power station as scheduled next year, thanks to more renewable energy and a growth in battery storage capacity.
Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) quietly released the Energy Security Target Monitor Report it had delivered privately to NSW climate and energy minister Penny Sharpe in October, showing that Australia’s biggest coal power clunker, Eraring, can close on time and there will be no gap in electricity supply. OUr new report, released today – The Lights will Stay On – confirms this, as we map the brilliant momentum in the state on utility scale firmed renewables and consumer energy resources (CER). There is no case for paying hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to keep the ailing, polluting behemoth chugging on.
Analysis of the 2024-30 power sector by the Climate Energy Finance director Tim Buckley found NSW will have enough capacity to cover the exit of the 2,880-megawatt Eraring station now set for closure by owner Origin Energy in August 2025.
“There is no reason why the taxpayer should be on the hook for multiples of hundreds of millions of dollars to keep Eraring open,” Buckley said, adding he had become “materially more confident” after a burst of federal and state moves at the end of 2023 to support more storage and large-scale renewables projects.
According to Clean Energy Finance director Tim Buckley, increased renewable energy supply and reduced fossil fuel price gouging is driving down wholesale prices which averaged A$91/MWh in CY2023, -52% year on year.
“This trend has continued, with 4QCY2023 averaging just $64/MWh -41% year on year, and well on its way back down to 2020-2021 levels,” he says via a LinkedIn post.
“This argues really strongly for double digit retail electricity price declines come the default market offer effective 1 July 2024, easing cost of living pressures and inflation, which in turn boosts the potential for slightly lower interest rates over the coming year.”
Queensland leads the nation in rooftop solar uptake, however there are concerns about the switch to renewables could come at a cost as the oversupply for the solar power during the middle of the day could bring wholesale electricity prices into the negative.
Tim Buckley told 7News Sunshine Coast that the energy retailers asking for compensation is speaking for their self-interests to protect their profit margin. Buckley said consumers who are on the default market offer can expect to see a double digit decline in the retail electricity price come the 1st of July 2024.