NIAS Wednesday Discussion - Dr. Rudrodip Majumdar will speak on "China’s Domination of the Global Solar PV Industry - A Case Study of Egypt’s Benban Solar Park using Satellite Imagery”

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Title: China’s Domination of the Global Solar PV Industry - A Case Study of Egypt’s Benban Solar Park using Satellite Imagery


Speaker: Rudrodip Majumdar

Assistant Professor, Energy and Environment Programme,

School of Natural Sciences and Engineering, NIAS


Chair: S. Chandrashekar

JRD Tata Chair Visiting Professor,

International Strategic & Security Studies Programme, NIAS


Date & Time: 9 December 2020 at 4.00 PM


Abstract: Near real-time satellite imagery from sources such as Google Earth (GE) can be used to monitor progress in the construction and operations of utility-scale large solar PV plants such as the Benban Solar Park in Egypt. The analysis of satellite images provides additional valuable information about the spatial features of the solar PV plants. In this exploratory study, the spacing between the PV arrays, the types of inverters used and the orientation of the inverters with respect to the arrays taken together provide a signature that is characteristic of a plant. Using GE imagery that was available for 23 of the 32 operational solar power plants at Benban, 12 distinct signature types could be identified for the plants at the park. Using open source data that was available for all 32 operational sites, these 12 signatures were linked to specific developers of the sites at the Park. During the study, China emerged as a major supplier of the various components needed for the establishment of solar PV Plants at Benban. Out of total of $ 2151 million spent at Benban, $ 1391 Million went to Chinese manufacturers and suppliers. China invested $ 280 million in various Benban projects through its AIIB and ICBC banks, resulting in a benefit to investment ratio of about 5. It is evident that China has strategically used its limited funding of projects at Benban to grow and develop its domestic industry and economy. Chinese development model associated with the PV industry was found to be very different than that pursed by the western world.  Today, China leads the world in the entire solar photovoltaic value chain. It has the largest manufacturers, state-of-art panel makers and the highest efficiency solar cells in the world.

As per the commitments made in the Paris Climate Agreement India is looking towards achieving 40% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030. Solar photovoltaics assume a pivotal position in India’s pursuit for green energy.  In this context, it would be very useful to create an integrated data base with regular satellite image inputs to link global developments to Indian needs. Such a capability could help India formulate suitable responses to China’s domination of a crucial green energy industry.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020