A delegation of high-level officials of the Chinese solar electricity industry and the foremost experts in their policy and market development areas, participating in the China Renewable Energy Development Project, (REDP), visited the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) in Cocoa, Florida on March 13 as part of their study tour of solar electric businesses and institutions in the United States. In addition to visiting FSEC, the group met with major photovoltaics (solar electric) manufacturers in the New York and Boston area and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado.
The REDP, sponsored by the Global Environment Facility and the World Bank, aims to establish sustainable markets for wind and photovoltaic technologies in order to supply electricity in economical and environmentally sustainable ways and increase access of isolated rural populations to electricity services. Their long-term objectives are to reduce the barriers to commercial renewable energy development in China, and through competition and large-scale demonstration bring down future supply costs for solar PV, allowing further commercial development of PV technologies.
The members of this renewable energy delegation were interested in FSECs research and testing facilities and current activities, particularly building energy efficiency and standardization and testing of PV modules. “They know that Florida is the only state in the U.S. that has a state-mandated PV performance requirement and that we are responsible for its implementation,” said Charlie Cromer, FSEC’s Photovoltaics and Distributed Generation Division Interim Director.
The study group’s objective is to increase their photovoltaics business knowledge, especially market development, sales, installation services and after-sales service, and technological knowledge.
China’s rapidly growing economy currently has a population of 1.37 billion people. Three million households in the country — a total of 13 million people — do not have electricity. In an effort to address this problem, a new China Renewable Energy Law went into effect on January 1, 2006 to specifically support the on-grid and rural PV market. China has committed $5 billion in rural electrification and has set a goal of 1.5 million households to have electricity by 2015.
FSEC’s 30 years of expertise in residential and commercial building design and the Florida energy code for buildings was also of special interest to the delegation as Chinas new building construction statute mandates energy efficiency standards for buildings.
The Florida Solar Energy Center, a research institute of the University of Central Florida, is the largest and most active state-supported energy research center in the country. Current research activities include solar water and pool heating, solar electric and distributed generation systems, energy-efficient buildings, alternative transportation systems, hydrogen fuel, fuel cells and other energy areas. For more information about the center, visit www.fsec.ucf.edu or call the FSEC Public Affairs Office at (321) 638-1015.