The annual conference of the China Solar Thermal Industry Federation (CSTIF), which took place in Beijing in the middle of December, attracted more than 500 participants from the Chinese solar thermal industry. For two and a half days, the stakeholders met in the Beijing International Convention Center to discuss market and technology aspects of their industry in plenary sessions and working groups. CSTIF had set up the meeting together with two other organisations: the China Energy Consumption Association (CMCA) and the solar thermal committee of the China Association of Rural Energy Industry (CAREI). The photo shows the opening session on Saturday morning, 15 December.
Photo: Yaping Zhang
Among the keynote speakers of the opening session was Liang Zhipeng, Deputy Director of the New and Renewable Energy Department of the National Energy Board. He emphasised the importance of product quality, a topic also dear to Huang Ming, founder and Chairman of the Himin Group, one of the largest manufacturers of solar water heating systems in the country.
Huang Ming, photo left and Gao Jingping, photo below right. Photos: CSTIF
Huang Ming said that solar companies should have different teams and strategies for rural and urban markets. The winner of the “Right Livelihood Award” of 2011 is convinced that the policy of “home appliances going rural” should have been delayed. The programme, which subsidised appliances in rural areas by a VAT reduction of 13% between 2010 and 2012, did not benefit the people at the beginning, since the products it offered had simply not been mature enough.
Ming explained his philosophy “My climate, my change” and described the transformation of his group from a solar thermal collector manufacturer to a provider of intelligent energy-saving systems, with a big variety of technologies mainly based on solar use.
The second keynote speaker from the industry was Gao Jingping (see the photo on the right), CEO of Sangle, also one of the top 5 solar thermal system suppliers in China. Jingping spoke about the increasing competition mainly in Chinese cities. Sangle had to close down some shops in major municipalities because other system suppliers were entering the urban market – partly with lower quality. The Sangle CEO also talked about the social culture in his business. Most of general management had stayed with the company for more than 10 years. “We provide training opportunities and loan guarantees for private apartments,” Jingping pointed out. Regarding the company’s relationship with franchise shop owners, Sangle tried to appeal to their families, too, by organising summer camps for the children and stays on health farms for the wives.
Zhentao Luo, Photo: CSTIF
The highlight of the last day of the annual meeting was the speech of Zhentao Luo (see the photo on the left), the former Chairman of CSTIF and CAREI. With his almost 70 years, Luo is one of the senior experts of the solar thermal sector in China. His presentation had the title “20 years of Chinese solar thermal industry development: Retrospect and Prospect”. Luo presented the latest figures on the solar water heating market of the last two years 2011 and 2012 relating on a comprehensive survey among the raw glass tubing industry and the big system suppliers.
According to CSTIF the residential retail market in 2011 was stable, whereas the engineering market segment grew by 52%. The share of flat plate collectors among the newly installed collector area increased slightly.
2012 newly installed collector area amounted to 63.9 million m², 11% more than in 2011. The cumulated collector area grew by 40.3 million m2 to 275 million m², which had led CSTIF to assume a replacement rate of 37%.
This news piece was written by Yaping Zhang, solrico partner in China ( www.solrico.com ).