Economic Daily: Individual PV Power Station Shows an Inspiring Potential

????In early June, the European Union??s preliminary results of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy on China's PV products will be announced, and the European PV market expects to be hit seriously. The continuous setbacks from the U.S. and European markets make it urgent to expand the market for PV application domestically.

????From the end of last year, the country issued a series of incentive policies focusing on the domestic PV subsidies for distributed power stations and encouraged individuals to build PV power stations to generate power for self-use and connect the surplus to the grid. People immediately became interested. According to SGCC??s statistics, nearly ten thousand people asked for the details within a few months. But few put it into action. As of May 17, there were only 25 grid-connected families.

????While excited at the success of breaking the connection bottleneck, we also have to think about how to popularize individual PV faster.

????Power stations to ??go up on the building ?? is a hurdle

????The problem of grid interconnection has been solved, but another obstacle appeared in the actual installation.

????According to the interview, grid interconnection, which was considered to be the bottleneck of individual PV project, had been solved by a series of national policies. But there came other obstacles in the actual installation.

????Yang Ying, marketing department director of State Grid Shanghai Municipal Electric Power Company, said that after the regulation??s promulgation, many people came for consulting. In the first month, there were more than 100 calls, but the installations were few.

????"Generally speaking, a 1KW PV system occupies 8-10 square meters, while a 3-5KW PV system can meet the everyday need of a family," said Yang. So in general, families need 20 to 30 square meters to install a PV device, which is quite a problem. For apartment residents, the biggest problem is to coordinate with others and share the public roof space.

????"An individual has to provide the Agreement Certification from the Owners Committee and the adjacent residents while applying for a distributed PV program," said Yang. "It is hard to realize for many applicants." Some residents requested the property management companies to coordinate, but those companies refused. "For apartment residents, the ideal state is to reach an agreement among all owners and to be provided with a unified installation by the property management companies."

????Purchase and installation of PV equipment is another major problem. After application, the grid department cannot publicly recommend PV products and installing businesses, the residents need to purchase and install by themselves. In the recent PV exhibition held in Shanghai, five or six PV equipment manufacturers were asked and few of them were willing to sell products to the general population and provide installation, because of the too scattered users and various installation conditions.

????For high-rise apartments, handling equipment requires a lot of manpower and resources. According to Dang Jihu, who lives in Sansheng Yijingyuan of Jiuting, Shanghai, and needs to install PV devices on the sixth floor roof, he used the crane to handle them with a cost of several thousand Yuan.

????Visit "Chen Jilin Power Station"

????On the rooftop terrace of a triplex villa, there is a private space of less than 30 square meters, with a few of homemade wooden frame and 11 pieces of PV panels on it. That is a personal power station of Chen Jilin, an environmental enthusiast who lives in Vanke City Garden in Qibao Town, Minhang District of Shanghai.

????"The weather is bad today and only generates 4.8KWh power today. In sunny day, it can easily generate 15KWh power," said Chen Jilin when pointing to the number displayed on the inverter. He said that he wanted to try this green energy for a long time. After seeing SGCC??s document, he called the service hotline 95598 immediately for consultation and went to Shanghai Southern Power Supply Company??s business hall to consult related issues. He submitted the pre-application on November 9 2012.

????After getting the relevant permission from Shanghai Electric Power Company, he quickly purchased PV equipment and used 3 to 4 weekends to install it on the balcony by himself. The installation and commissioning finished in mid-December.

????Chen Jilin??s PV solar equipment comprises a total of 11 PV components, each with 240W capacity and the grid-connecting components use serial inverters with an output power of 2.5KW. In light of the solar power resources in Shanghai, the annual power generation is expected to reach 2.6MWh, equivalent to reducing 2 to 2.5 tons of carbon emissions.

????When asked about the cost, Chen Jilin did his calculation: 7,000 Yuan for solar panels, 4,000 Yuan for the inverter and 2,000 Yuan for brackets and accessories. In addition, the installation fee was saved because of DIY and the interconnection cost was covered by the power company. The overall cost was about 14,000 Yuan.

????After using the individual PV device to generate power for partial family needs, Chen??s monthly power purchase decreased visibly and the price level dropped from the third gear to second gear, saving 0.3 Yuan/KWh. "On March 17, I signed a contract with the electricity supply company. From January 5 to March 19, my PV device generated about 480KWh power and 243KWh of it was connected to the grid. According to Shanghai's benchmark power price of coal desulfurization, the power company paid me 116 Yuan," said Chen.

????If possible, Chen wants to establish a company specializing in distributed PV power generation, providing all services from application, design, installation and loans for individuals and companies.

????Investment return is the key

????Difficult cost recovery stops many families from building a personal station.

????Investment return attracts most concern. Difficult cost recovery stops many families from building a personal station.

????Yang Ying introduced that 1KW PV system generally cost about 15,000 Yuan, thus an ordinary family had to spend 45,000 Yuan to install a 3KW system. Shanghai's annual PV generation hour was about 1200 hours and the system can generate 3600KWh a year. Even if a family sell all the annual generation to the grid with 0.5 Yuan per KWh, it takes more than 20 years to break even, but the PV panel??s life expectancy is only 25 years.

????Xu Pengfei, in Jiagouling of Qingdao, Shandong Province, is the first grid-connected home PV system user. He installed a 2KW PV system, generating power for self-use and connecting the surplus to the grid. The total cost was 21,000 Yuan and it was estimated to recover the investment in 18 years with Shanghai's coal desulfurization benchmark price of 0.4469 Yuan/KWh.

????Individual user's investment recovery is not optimistic, then how about large collective projects in residential blocks?

????The Century Seaview block, Shanghai??s first collective applicant, will have a total installed capacity of 40KW of PV integration project, with 206 pieces of 195-watt monocrystal line silicon modules on the roofs of two buildings. The project will annually generate 40MWh."All the generated power will be used by the building??s public lighting. The original intention is to promote low-carbon and energy saving and it is difficult to recover the cost from an investment view," said Lu Youxiang, material purchasing director of Contract Management in Shanghai Zhongjiang Real Estate Development Co., Ltd.

????The current PV equipment is uneconomical for most individuals, but a lot of people believe that the future price will further reduce and the conversion efficiency will be significantly improved. In the long run, it is a good investment. Dong Qiang, Tianjin??s first user in Occident Town of Tanggu, said the national subsidy policy would determine whether the individual investment was profitable.

????Large development needs policy supports

????According to foreign experience, the rapid development of home PV system depends on high government subsidies.

????"At present, many applicants are PV industry practitioners or environmentalists," said Zhang Zhengling, Deputy Director of SGCC??s Department of Strategic Development and Planning.

????Zhang analyzed that, in the long term, the domestic PV market was huge, reflected by the consulting number of nearly ten thousand.

????But PV is new with high cost and needs policy supports. "Like newborn babies, the adult has to hold their hands, or they cannot go far." According to foreign experience, the rapid development of home PV system depends on high government subsidies.

????The development of distributed PV also depends on the roof resource. It is more suitable for standalones or united villas, universities, enterprises and self-built rural housing and the enterprise installations mainly focus on shopping malls or industrial plants. "These places should be prior to promote and the residential apartment building is more difficult," said Zhang. He also added that if the loan problem could be effective solved, the majority of the rural market would inject a strong impetus on domestic PV development.

????"At present, the distributed PV users are very few. Like a drop in the bucket, it is not a big impact on large grids. Most users are industrial insiders, who are very familiar with the relevant techniques, and their installation quality can pass the test. After large-scale promotion, the quality control will also be a challenge," said Yang Ying. The government needs to enact the normative documents during the process of building a distributed PV project, clarifying the requirements on the house structure, how many years the building is used, and the standards on PV modules and inverters. (Li Yuyang, Wang Yichen)

????Source: Economic Daily

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