Carbon Case is a 36Kr column devoted to carbon peaking, carbon neutrality, and ESG case studies. While industries understand the importance of the recently-established carbon neutrality target, the question of how to reach that goal remains unclear. We hope to address that issue by compiling comprehensive, detailed reports on particular cases by conducting interviews and studying projects that encourage energy conservation and carbon reduction, environmental protection, and social responsibility. We hope these case studies can influence more industry players to do the same.
For the third issue of Carbon Case, 36Kr went to Dongying, Shandong, to visit the solar fishery hybrid project jointly constructed by Huawei and photovoltaic company Tongwei New Energy. In such projects, photovoltaic solar (PV) panels are installed above ponds containing fish, shrimp, and crabs.
In Dongying, Shandong, row upon row of blue steel plates stand like sentinels in the middle of a large fishery pond. These steel plates, which are photovoltaic (PV) panels, serve the dual function of converting solar energy into electricity and providing much-needed shade for the shrimp and fish that live below them.
A joint project by technology giant Huawei and the PV manufacturer Tongwei New Energy, this solar fishery system is a marvel of productivity. Even the shrimp cultivated in the shade provided by the solar panels taste better, the park staff told 36Kr.
The economic benefits of solar fishery projects
Named the TW Dongying Solar Fishery Ecological Park, the project has 410,000 PV panels, and has generated almost 300 million kWh of power and earned RMB 110 million in revenue since January 2021.
The average daily power generated by one PV panel is about 3 kWh, barring weather changes. Ten PV panels can support the daily energy usage of a family of three. Extrapolating from this, the power generated by the entire PV park can meet the daily energy demands of a town of 10,000.
At the same time, the ecological park has produced more than 300 tons of Pacific white shrimp since May 2021, earning an income of over RMB 15 million despite being in its early stages. This number is set to increase after the park introduces the cultivation of sea cucumbers.
“Everyone thinks the greatest economic benefits of solar fishery projects come from photovoltaics. However, according to our calculations, after the fishery is upgraded, the income generated from the fishery’s aquaculture will be higher than that from PV power generation,” said Tang Lin, director of TW New Energy’s General Division.
A total of RMB 800 million has been invested in Dongying Solar Fishery Ecological Park. Ideally, if it maintains its average annual power generation revenue of RMB 100 million, and when the income from the fishery can match that amount, the park will be able to recover its capital in four years at the earliest.
Its earning power isn’t the only benefit of combining a solar farm with a fishery. The use of solar power on a large scale helps the town move closer towards meeting China’s targets of reaching peak carbon emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2060.
Huawei and the PV power generation market
The use of PV panels for power generation has been around for years. China’s National Energy Administration announced that 108 gigawatts of PV power are expected to be added to the grid in 2022, almost doubling that of 2021. However, as of July, only 23.9 gigawatts have been added to the grid so far.
This is an opportunity for tech companies like Huawei, where energy innovation—particularly PV solutions—has been the focus of their work in recent years.
Huawei is arguably one of the leaders in the industry, having launched the first set of smart PV solutions in 2014. Huawei contributed various industry innovations such as smart tracking, reducing safety hazards, and developing a grid connection algorithm that efficiently adapts a PV plant to different grid scenarios. It also introduced the Smart I-V Curve Diagnosis, which uses big data to analyze and inspect power plants.
In 2021, Huawei established Huawei Digital Power, which focuses on clean energy development, and the Photovoltaic Legion. At the Huawei Analyst Summit in April 2022, Huawei’s deputy and rotating chairman Hu Houkun said that photovoltaics is one of Huawei’s advantages in the low-carbon sector.
Tongwei Group’s unique advantages
Tongwei Group is an ideal partner for such a project since it specializes in both agricultural production and new energy.
In addition to being a global producer of aquatic, livestock, and poultry feed, Tongwei Group set up several subsidiaries in the new energy sector, including photovoltaic enterprises such as Yongxiang Polysilicon (producing high-purity crystalline silicon), Tongwei Solar (producing midstream high-efficiency solar cells), and Tongwei New Energy (focusing on end-to-end construction and operation of PV power stations). As of July 2022, the market value of Tongwei shares exceeded RMB 300 billion.
With its resources in both the agricultural and new energy sectors, it’s little wonder that Tongwei pioneered the first solar fishery hybrid system. In July 2015, the first pipe pile—which provides support for PV panels—was installed in a pond in Rudong, Jiangsu, marking the official launch of Tongwei’s first such project in China.
Since then, the company has developed and built more than 60 solar fishery power generation bases in more than 20 provinces and cities in China, including Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Anhui, Guangxi, Guangdong, Shandong, and Hubei, with a grid-connected scale of over 3 gigawatts.
“No one who understands PV power generation knows fish farming better than us, and vice versa,” said Wu Xiaoping, deputy general manager of Tongwei New Energy.
Huawei was the first company Tongwei reached out to for collaboration. One of the reasons why Tongwei chose Huawei as its partner is that it admires Huawei’s technological innovations, which help them significantly improve efficiency and reduce costs.
Wu told 36Kr: “The standardization that Huawei’s technology introduces helps to summarize essential information. For example, for a 500 megawatt PV power station project with an investment of more than RMB 2 billion, we can capture all the information and issues on a few pieces of paper.”
The partnership between the two industry giants is a strategic move that keeps them ahead of the game. In light of China’s current push toward the dual carbon goals, all eyes are now on green energy production—and projects like solar fishery hybrid systems will likely receive the most attention.
This article was adapted based on a feature originally written by Su Jianxun. 36Kr Global is authorized to translate, adapt, and publish its contents.