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2021SNEC | Speech by Zhu Gongshan Wind, Solar and Hydrogen Storage, Green Energy Triad to Power Carbon Neutrality


One and a half decades have passed since the first SNEC PV Power Expo. On June 2, 2021, the 15th SNEC Conference is held in Kerry Hotel Pudong, Shanghai. The ceremony is opened with a speech by Zhu Gongshan, Chairman of Global Green Energy Council, Chairman of Asian Photovoltaic Industry Association, Executive Chairman of the SNEC Conference, Chairman of GCL Group. The following is the subject speech, entitled “Wind, Solar and Hydrogen Storage, Green Energy Triad to Power Carbon Neutrality”.

Good morning ladies and gentlemen! Dear leaders, colleagues, experts and honored guests from photovoltaic industry, our media friends and online participants, welcome to our conference!


This is our 15th get-together at SNEC, a very special and grand event, as it highlights President Xi Jinping’s goal of “Carbon Peak” and “Carbon Neutrality” towards a zero-carbon society. Fifteen years ago, the first SNEC PV Power Expo was hardly known, but today it serves as the beacon light of the global photovoltaic industry. From a few scattered stalls, the SNEC has grown into a Photovoltaic Davos Carnival, attracting academicians, experts and participants from multiple fields, including but not limited to photovoltaics, energy storage, hydrogen energy, fuel cell, green transportation, smart grid. It’s a pleasant surprise that the exhibition has reached a record-breaking size of 200,000 square meters, participated by more than 3,000 exhibiting companies and over 3,000 experts from dozens of countries.

This not only mirrors the progress of the industry but also signals the great changes into a new era. Photovoltaics has taken a “historical leap” since it was officially defined as the “main energy source of the future” at the Ninth Meeting of the Central Finance and Economics Committee held in March this year. This is a great payoff for our constant efforts and undivided commitment in face of the ups and downs in the industry. We have shown our absolute determination. Here, my beloved comrades, as the Executive Chairman of this SNEC conference, on behalf of the Global Green Energy Council, the Asian Photovoltaic Industry Association, let me proudly extend my most sincere appreciation to each and every one of you, for your faith, resilience and pioneering spirits in the global photovoltaics development. And again, my heartfelt welcome to you all!


Photovoltaic industry has been ushered into an unprecedented new stage by the “Carbon Peak” and “Carbon Neutrality” duet. Now, please allow me to brief and share some views on the status quo and future trends of the global photovoltaic industry.

First, the global “carbon neutrality” trend predicates a golden-thirty-year development for photovoltaics. Recent years have seen more and more extreme weathers, natural disasters and epidemics across the world. Mother nature is giving us alarm calls. As pointed out by Mr. Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, our home planet is in as much of an urgent need of a "ten-year transition period" as a business needs its transformation. Under the circumstances, “carbon neutrality” has come to provide as a widely-accepted strategy for ecological balances when human beings have achieved the consensus to prevent global warming and dramatic climate changes for now and for our future generations. Chinese President Xi Jinping announced “Carbon Peak” and “Carbon Neutrality” in last September, and his serial speeches to mobilize the goal have already brought about big changes in China’s economic system, social system and national ecological governance system. Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada, South Korea and other countries have successively joint to promise to achieve "carbon neutrality" by 2050. Meanwhile, Europe has planned to bill "carbon neutrality" by 2050. President Biden, on his very first day in office, announced U.S.’s return to the Paris Agreement and its target to realize “carbon neutral” by 2050. Up to now, more than 130 countries and regions across the world have proposed either "zero carbon" or "carbon neutrality", and most have planned to meet the goal at around year 2050. On May 27th, Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng chaired the first plenary meeting of the "Carbon Peak" and "Carbon Neutrality" leading team in China. Various related tasks and policies have been comprehensively designed and deployed, emphasizing the on-schedule realization of “Carbon Peak” and “Carbon Neutrality”.


Worldwide “carbon neutrality” requires a paradigm shift in energy consumption. Given the current reform tendency, electricity will grow to dominate the user end of energy consumption in the next three decades. Over half or even 60% to 70% of the electricity supply will be generated by wind power and photovoltaics. Photovoltaic installed capacity is to expand at a compound annual growth rate above 10% globally, and by then the total installed capacity will reach to an amount 20 times larger than that of today. For years, China has been at the forefront of the global photovoltaic research, development and production and our gained advantages will continue in the era of “carbon neutrality”. China is anticipated to have a total photovoltaic installed capacity of over 70 times larger than now when “Carbon Neutrality” is measured up by 2060.

Now let’s zoom in a little bit for the upcoming years. At the United Nations Global Climate Ambition Summit, President Xi Jinping announced that by 2030, China's total installed capacity of wind and solar power will reach 1.2 billion kilowatts. This data suggests that by the end of its “14th Five-Year Development”, China's cumulative installed photovoltaic capacity will add up to 1,000GW approximately, with an annual addition of around 80GW, and a cumulative increase of around 400GW. While globally an annual growth of 250GW and a total successive addition of above 1000GW are estimated respectively. From the beginning of 2021, all the ministries and commissions of the Chinese government have been constantly issuing guidelines and strategies to endorse the development of photovoltaic industries, creating a top-down supporting environment from the central throughout to the local governments. More than 20 provinces and cities have integrated photovoltaic industry into their "14th Five-Year" development plans. Photovoltaic industry has embarked on a missionary new journey. As I mentioned here last year, although short-term erratic fluctuations in the photovoltaic industry might be forecasted in the "post-epidemic era", the basic situation is stable and promising, and we are striding on a strategic new path. The implementations of negative interest rates, other favorable interest-rate policies and lowered deposit reserve ratios among the world’s major economies have hugely boosted the cost-effectiveness of photovoltaic power generation. Zero carbon has certainly promoted photovoltaics to the center arena. The globally growing need for photovoltaic power has significantly reduced photovoltaic industry of its dependence on subsidies, moving from parity grid toward further lowering power price. Photovoltaic industry will usher into 30 years of golden development by being the driving force of “carbon neutrality”.

Secondly, “Carbon Neutral” is pushing for a revolutionary shift from “carbon-based” to “silicon-based” in energy production and consumption. Nowadays, the overuse of natural resources and the damage to the resources system caused by human activities have been seriously depleting the stock of coal, oil, natural gas and other carbon energy on the earth. We humankind are forced to seeking for alternative energies, and for a greener and more sustainable way of development. We have to transfer from a high-carbon development model to a low-carbon one and eventually to zero-carbon. In stark contrast to the depletion of "carbon energy", the effective use of "silicon energy" has just begun. Beside oxygen, silicon is the most common element on the surface of the earth's crust, widely found in rocks and ordinary sand. Moreover, silicon has highly stable performance and the purification technology is mature. Silicon is now the primary material in photovoltaic and semiconductor industries. Emerging industries such as new energy, new materials and electronic information will also be silicon-based. Silicon dominates future energy industry. The key to energy reform is to replace traditional "carbon energy" with clean "silicon energy". From the material end on, technology innovations of “silicon energy” will bring about a brand-new round of revolutions in new energy applications and equipment. “Silicon energy” will help to significantly reduce our dependence on traditional fossil energy, better promote green and low-carbon development, and even help in biodiversity conservation on the earth in face of global climate changes.


Clean energy supply is vital in energy reforms driven by “silicon energy”. The key of the reform lies in the realization of low-cost photovoltaic grids via innovations of silicon-based materials. The cost of photovoltaic kilowatt-hours has dropped by 90%. Now in nearly 80% of China, photovoltaic power is produced at a lower cost than that of coal power, regardless of the non-technical costs. The main target now is to further lower the price for more stable and sustainable photovoltaic power grids. In last May, the on-grid photovoltaic power price in Qinghai Province reached a new low of 0.22RMB/kwh. Globally, more and more countries and regions have managed to bring down photovoltaic power cost comparable to or lower than thermal power. In the UAE, Qatar, India, and other countries, PV bidding prices continue to go down, breaking record after record. In this April, Saudi Arabia broke a new low, reducing the price to 1.04 cents/kwh. I have communicated with many colleagues in photovoltaic industry. It’s generally considered that it will be a breakthrough point of China’s energy substitution reform, both in supply and end use, when the PV generation price drops to 0.15RMb/kwh and storage cost drops to 3 cents/kwh. It now appears that this breakthrough point is likely to be met during the "14th Five-Year Development". China's photovoltaic industry is providing the global market 58% of polysilicon supplies, 93% of silicon wafers supplies, 75% of solar cells supplies, and 73% of modules supplies. In the era of low-cost photovoltaic grids, China will continue to play a leading role in the global "silicon energy" industry, relying on its advantages and experiences on technology, materials and markets.


Under the “Carbon Peak” and “Carbon Neutrality” goal, photovoltaic power will become the “first energy” among new energy sources, moving from parity grid toward low-cost grid. It will also become the “primary energy” in the hydrogen energy era. On one hand, photovoltaic power plus energy storage solutions, UHV and smart grids will form a "golden triad". This triad will be able to remove the restrictions of time and space, produce great synergy effect and create a closed loop of power "generation, transportation and use" for the new energy system. On the other hand, silicon-solar-hydrogen will also compose a power triad. Using photovoltaic power to electrolyze water to produce hydrogen is a solution for green hydrogen. Carbon-free production, transportation, use and reuse of gas energy, represented by green hydrogen, will serve as another mode of compound clean energy.


In the time of zero-carbon economy, with the growing economic advantages of photovoltaic power generation and the constant improvements of photovoltaic hydrogen production technology, the desert on the earth will become the "energy goldmine". "Photovoltaics Great Corridor" and "Hydrogen Great Corridor" will link and chain regions and areas, and create great benefits to the society. At present, global desertification area has reached 36 million square kilometers, and it is still expanding at a rate of 50,000 to 70,000 square kilometers per year, affecting one-fifth of the earth’s population and one-third of the land area. The situations are even worse in developing countries with arid climates in Asia, Africa, and South America. Time and time again, the blue sky has been “painted” orange by dust pollutions. In the era of "carbon neutrality", "PV control" will be paralleled with traditional sand control modes like afforestation, returning farmland to forests, and returning grazing land to grassland, to put into effect the "three in one" synergy of economic, ecological, and social benefits, and to transfer the Gobi Desert into “Oasis beyond the Great Wall”.

Thirdly, in the future, cutting-edge photovoltaic technology will be the driving force not only in propelling “Carbon Peak” and “Carbon Neutrality”, but also in the implementation of “double control” on both the quantity and intensity of energy and resource consumption. The "14th Five-Year" period is critical for achieving the "Carbon Peak" and "Carbon Neutrality" goals. Major changes have been caused in the economic and social development model. Local governments and enterprises are required to take both economy and ecology into accounts, exercising strict “double control” on the quantity and the intensity of energy consumption per unit GDP in economic development and business operation. "Carbon Peak" and "Carbon Neutrality" action plans and roadmaps have been successively released nationwide since the "Two Sessions" this year. More than 20 provinces have integrated "carbon peak", "carbon neutrality" and “double control” into their green new deal: to set limits on the growth of energy consumption in high-energy-consuming industries and newly-commenced projects; to strictly implement energy conservation review systems such as energy consumption equivalent replacement; to carry out the "double control" assessment; to accelerate the formation of green production and green lifestyle and to promote green and sustainable development.


The increased expense of carbon resources and the decreased energy consumption quota have made photovoltaics a star industry in the context of “Carbon Peak” and “Carbon Neutrality”. Photovoltaic industry is to set an example in “carbon footprint”. According to the European Commission's life cycle assessment method, currently the upstream manufacturing of PV materials accounts for 80% to 95% of the "carbon footprint" of its full life cycle. This means PV technology innovation should take priority in the manufacturing of PV materials. “Carbon footprint” should be reduced from the beginning. In other words, during the “14th Five-Year” period, a “PV technology combination package”, consisting of cutting-edge PV materials with lower comprehensive energy consumption per unit GDP and other related downstream products, will be a perfectly reliable “carbon neutrality” solution, seeking synergistic breakthroughs in efficiency, cost and zero-carbon technology. Since the last SNEC, 210 large-size silicon wafers, high-efficiency shingles, heterojunction, perovskite, PERC+, TOPCon, HJT cells and other photovoltaic cutting-edge technologies have flourished. In terms of single crystals, N-type TOPCon cells, P-type TOPCon cells, HJT batteries and other mainstream technologies continue to break records. The world has seen the latest achievements and the luxurious lineup of China's collective innovations in PV industry under the "Carbon Peak" and “Carbon Neutrality” goal.


As for granular silicon, China Quality Certification Center issued the first carbon footprint certificate for granular silicon in accordance with relevant verification procedures on May 29 this year. The certificate suggests that the carbon footprint of particle silicon per functional unit is only 20.74 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent. This is the first domestic "carbon footprint" and authoritative appraisal certificate obtained by granular silicon from the issuing of the related document by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment on May 17. This carbon footprint value has broken the record set by WACKER, 57.559 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent. It shows the absolute advantage of granular silicon in terms of carbon emission, despite the fact that WACKER’s carbon footprint was certified by a foreign institution. In comparison, the carbon footprint values of rod-shaped silicon produced by traditional processes are mostly between 70-90 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent. This means a 3 to 4 times reduction in carbon emission. The carbon print value is completely consistent with the advantages of granular silicon in terms of comprehensive power consumption. At present, the comprehensive power consumption is 18 degrees per kilogram, soon to decrease to 15 degrees. Carbon dioxide emissions during the production of 1GW granular silicon materials has been reduced by 130,000 tons, 74% lesser than that of the traditional process. All indicators meet and exceed the requirements of the "carbon neutrality" process.


Future photovoltaic industry is to be driven by science and technology. Innovative product solutions need to be incubated and created, with greater cost-effectiveness and better performance in “carbon emission big data”, in order to achieve “carbon neutrality”. The development of PV technology in the “double control” mode is bound to receive national institutional support and policy support regarding project evaluation, intellectual property rights, government procurement, financing services and so on, under the theme of “Carbon Peak” and “Carbon Neutrality”. PV technology innovations are to be accepted by the market, supported by the government, and recognized by the society.

Dear leaders, experts, and colleagues, it’s nothing but easy for PV industry to have gone this far. It has been an odyssey full of ups and downs, hopes and doubts, and glory and thorns. Today PV power generation stands out of the page, bearing incomparable advantages in comparison with other energy generation forms. It is endorsed by the nation and highly relied on by the whole world in green development. PV industry shoulders great responsibilities and it is our glorious mission. As a veteran in this journey, I’d like to share a few perspectives into the future.


First of all, PV development must stay focused and take holistic methods on “carbon neutrality” under the guidelines of Xi Jinping's new energy security strategy. Great responsibilities, great deeds. Photovoltaics is the "first choice" and "preferable option" for achieving "carbon neutrality" with global recognitions. Time has chosen PV. We must live up to this kind of trust and recognition and match our efforts with the world’s expectations. We shall proceed in accordance with the country’s policy orientation, actively integrate PV into the national development strategy, give full play to PV advantages, and fulfill our responsibilities and mission. PV industry can make contributions in China’s rural revitalization by developing rural household photovoltaics for rural electricity substitution, promoting the construction of rural charging facilities and raising the electrification level of rural energy. PV technology will empower the construction of gasified villages, electric villages, and beautiful villages. PV development can also bring benefits to areas in the “Belt and Road” Initiative. PV is now the main medium for the new model of international energy cooperation in the post-epidemic era. China's advanced PV experiences and development model can be promoted and exported in regional poverty alleviation, ecological restoration, photovoltaic +, etc., and contribute in the noble theme of “New Area, Shared Future”.


We must strive to build a good industrial ecological environment and utilize the hard-won fruits. We need to strengthen our overall advantages through coordinated development, and enhance the position of PV industry in the national economy. We shall emphasize high self-discipline, orient to the market, and comply with related laws and regulations. In this pattern, we can move forward toward healthy, diversified and mutual development, avoiding structural imbalances caused by homogenized competitions and "jumping on the bandwagon”. All photovoltaic colleagues shall join hands to build and upscale the industry, to avoid catastrophic episodes, to ensure a sustainable, high-quality and healthy development for PV industry, and to propel the early realization of "Carbon Neutrality".


Secondly, we need to broaden the industrial horizon and promote industrial chain extensions. New models and possibilities should be explored and tried, in order to transform PV industry from an “exclusive industry” into a compatible “carbon neutral symbiosis” system. PV is no longer a soloist but an indispensable eco-value co-builder for the "carbon neutrality" system. Carbon neutrality refers to the equilibrium of carbon emissions and absorption, which means that the total amount of carbon emissions in a certain period of time equals the total amount of "negative emissions" such as carbon absorption, carbon capture, carbon storage, and carbon utilization. Comparable to tree planting for afforestation, PV power generation is also an optional path toward “carbon neutrality”. After the Ministry of Ecology and Environment issued the three major management documents of carbon trading on May 17, a joint test of the national carbon market system was cascaded. The market system might be officially launched in June. All the eight traditional industries, power, petrochemical, chemical, building materials, steel, non-ferrous metals and the sub-sectors including cement, electrolytic aluminum and so on, will gradually be included in the carbon market system. In this context, photovoltaics will undoubtedly play more of the role of "neutralizer" and "connector", linking and bridging all walks of life and industries. In line with the mission of "Carbon Peak" and "Carbon Neutrality", photovoltaics will gradually break boundaries and penetrate into other industries such as petrochemicals, chemicals, energy storage, transportation, construction, hydrogen production, etc., forming new forms and models of "carbon neutrality" economy. For example, Sinopec gas stations have used PV+ as a solution to update from an “oil seller” to an integrated provider of “oil-gas-hydrogen-electricity and service”. This is a very good attempt at “carbon neutrality”. At a previous SNEC, I once shared the view of “think outside the PV box”. It has been proved that the core competitiveness of PV lies in its ability to link and bridge various industries. Coexistence creates win-win. We need to take more initiatives and cooperate profoundly on the path of cross-border and compound development.

Thirdly, PV development must be technology-based and innovation-driven. Technology advancement and model innovation is the engine of high-quality PV development in the era of zero-carbon economy. The goal of "Carbon Peak" and "Carbon Neutrality” has become a reversing mechanism. The time it takes to achieve the target is determined by the speed of technology iteration and the degree of model innovation. In the next few decades, "carbon peak" and “carbon neutrality” will produce profound influences in all aspects of economic and social development. The philosophy of being technology-based and innovation-driven will be fully taken in the process of forming a zero-carbon society. Different than usual, this innovation will be a systematic and comprehensive innovation with "zero-carbon technology" at its core, "zero-carbon economy" as the driving force, and "carbon indicators" as the assessment method. The photovoltaic industry needs to develop with the support of national policies, compliant with intellectual property rights, and through market-oriented means. It will take the model of integrations of production, education, research, use, finance, and services, form ecological alliances in line with the goals of “carbon peak” and “carbon neutrality”, promote collaborative innovations, and strengthen industrial technology integration and coupling innovations. Together we can work to tackle black technology projects and key common technologies, jointly conduct market verification and other methods, and eventually create a zero-carbon PV industry consortium, pushing for new technologies, new materials, new processes, and new applications, moving the industry to the higher end of the zero-carbon industry value chain, and pursuing the early realization of the "Carbon Peak" and "Carbon Neutrality”.

Dear leaders, experts, and colleagues, photovoltaics is the most generous gift from nature. It is the most beautiful and meaningful cause to help life prosper under the sun. "Carbon Peak" and "Carbon Neutrality” have brought unprecedented opportunities and each and every PV ecology co-builder will have a lot to achieve. One swallow doesn’t make a summer, while hundreds of flowers in full blossom bring spring to the garden. Let us embark together on this innovation journey, shoulder our responsibilities and bear in mind the big notion of "Carbon Peak" and "Carbon Neutrality". Together we will be able to facilitate the construction of ecological civilization and make our planet a better community for our shared future!

Finally, I hope this year's SNEC conference runs smoothly and successfully. I wish you all good health and all the best! Thank you.