Welcome to Azure International

Azure International is a leading investment and advisory company focused on China's cleantech energy sector. Founded in 2003, we have a team of 20+ local and international professionals based in China with backgrounds in engineering, marketing, manufacturing, consulting, policy, government relations and finance. In addition to deep advisory capabilities in renewable energy, energy efficiency, carbon management, and energy finance, we have proven capability to invest in and accelerate the development of clean energy companies.  Our portfolio and partner companies have achieved both significant commercial success and returns to investors. Azure provides the necessary expertise and execution capabilities in China to lead relationship development with government and strategic partners, project execution, sourcing, sales and technology development – all with deep understanding of Chinese and international requirements.

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Solar– NEA releases new policy aimed at resolving distributed PV development challenges: On September 5th, the National Energy Administration released a document containing 15 high level policy points ranging from the definition of distributed PV to construction quality standards. Perhaps most notably, the NEA calls for subsidy payments to be made on a monthly basis. Limited redistribution of subsidies as well as conflicting tax guidelines have been a major headache for project owners up to now. In addition, railway stations, airports, stadiums, parking lots and other large public areas were identified as key areas for early stage implementations. Detailed national and local support guidelines are expected to follow as a result of this policy release. While this release is a step in the right direction, its impact will ultimately depend on the specifics of the follow-on policies. (BJX CN)

Storage – NDRC grants PHS projects temporary exemption from water resource fees: In line with a series of recent policies aimed at accelerating the development of pumped hydroelectric storage, the National Development and Reform Commission exempted PHS plants from a RMB0.005/kWh water resource fee paid by other forms of hydroelectric generation. As a result of these recent policies, Azure is revising its original PHS forecast of 50-60 GW by 2020 to over 70 GW by 2020. In China, large-scale energy storage is badly needed to provide load following service. China’s predominantly coal-fired generation fleet is already struggling to match changing load patterns and stabilize renewable energy sources. (ChinaSmartGrid CN)

Storage and EV – ABB and BYD announce cooperation on energy storage: BYD and ABB announced a strategic partnership to develop a series of energy storage related solutions for the global market. More specifically, they will codevelop technology related to EV charging, grid-scale energy storage, microgrids and marine PV and battery applications. With respect to grid-scale energy storage, BYD originally supplied its own power converters and control technologies for its early demonstration projects but has recently sourced from other suppliers. ABB is scheduled to provide a network of fast charging stands for the Denza EV, which was codeveloped by BYD and Daimler and is expected to begin shipments this month. (ChinaSmartGrid CN)

Solar and Wind – TBEA announces massive wind and solar project pipeline: TBEA announced a series of agreements with governments in Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang and Shaanxi totaling 2.4 GW in new projects, costing over RMB 24.2 billion. As China’s largest energy equipment manufacturer, with solar wafer and inverter products, TBEA is looking to counteract lower upstream profits through greater participation in the downstream market. The Alashan clean energy base in West Inner Mongolia accounts for nearly 2 GW of this pipeline. (BJX CN)

Solar  – State Grid ERI acknowledges that distributed PV installations well behind targets: At the “2014 PV Investment and Financing Forum” that was hosted in Beijing last week, State Grid researchers acknowledged that distributed PV installations were not on pace to achieve the 2014 goal of 8 GW. According to their statistics, only 438 MW were added during the first five months of 2014 and installations within China’s 18 PV Demonstration zones were only 5% of the anticipated grid connected capacity. (BJX CN

Energy Storage – Chinese researchers claim world’s largest rechargeable LiS battery: China Academy of Science researchers from the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics (DICP) announced the successful development of a 15 Ah@430Wh/kg rechargeable LiS, beating out Sion Power, a U.S. based manufacturer, in terms of density and size. Their work was funded by the “863” program. LiS batteries are very interesting for applications with high energy density requirements, like portable electronics and electric vehicles, because LiS energy densities are 3-4 times higher than traiditional lithium ion cells. (China New Energy CN)

Policy – Head of National Energy Administration lays out vision for 13th Five-Year Energy Plan: With the launch of the China’s next five-year plan less than two years away, Wu Xunxiong, head of the NEA, provided a comprehensive view of China’s energy future. He called for 200 GW of wind and 100 GW of solar by 2020, as well as increased emphasis on the development of geothermal, biomass and tidal power.  (NEA CN)

Solar  – Jinko Solar signs 100 MW for solar plants in Southeast China: JinkoSolar Power inked a 100MW deal with the Hengfeng County local government in Jiangxi Province. The plants will be operated by JinkoSolar and will receive RMB1.2/kWh FiT. Traditionally, large solar plants have been constructed in China’s Northwestern provinces. This project reflects the new trend in solar installations whereby PV developers are looking for projects closer to China’s load centers along the Eastern seaboard, driven by a mix of government policy and a desire to avoid areas with preexisiting solar curtailment. (EBR EN)

Energy Efficiency – IBM agrees to collaborate with China’s largest server vendor: Following a downturn of sales related to security fears, IBM has agreed to work with China’s largest server vendor, Inspur International. Compared to the West, China’s data centers have low energy efficiency. IBM will provide a range of innovations, including its Power8 processors, that should help push Inspur towards more energy efficient designs. (The Star EN)

Electric Vehicle– BYD says EVs will be driving force or revenue growth in H2 2014: BYD’s first half conventional and new energy sales were lackluster, achieving  36% and 4% of BYD’s annual sales targets respectively. Nonetheless, BYD’s chairman is bullish on 2nd half new energy vehicle growth prospects claiming that new battery production capacity will allow BYD to address its new energy vehicle order backlog. (ESCN CN)

Energy Storage – Samsung and Sungrow Power announce JV plans: On Sunday, representatives from Samsung SDI and Sungrow Power signed a preliminary MOU in Hubei, declaring their intention to form a JV for the production of ESS in China. Samsung, as the world’s largest lithium ion battery manufacturer with proven ESS systems, and Sungrow, as China’s largest inverter manufacturer with impressive recent growth, have a number of technology, market, and corporate culture synergies. (Korea Times EN)

This is a great achievement for Samsung SDI and Sungrow, in which Azure International played an important role. In the early stages of Samsung SDI's China business development work, Azure helped Samsung identify the most promising segments of the China ESS market as well as shortlist and contact the best fit strategic partners. Sungrow was at the top of our list of recommended partners, and we are glad to see that SDI and Sungrow have made good progress towards a partnership.
Coal – China’s coal prices predicted to stay low over next 12 months: The China Southern Morning Post reported guidance from a number of research houses pointed to low coal prices over the next 1-2 years. (SCMP EN) Lower coal prices may lead to revisions in wholesale power prices set by the government, which has a direct impact on renewable energy surcharge requirements and subsidy redistribution.

Energy Storage – NDRC releases new pricing policy for pumped hydroelectric energy storage : The National Development and Reform Comission is calling for newly built projects to be compensated using a two part generation tariff: a capacity payment that covers project financing  and fixed yearly costs and a TOU energy payment that allows plant operators to cover the variable costs of operation. The NDRC also called for new projects to open to competitive bidding. (China Smart Grid CN) This policy is expected to loosen State Grid’s control over the large-scale energy storage market and boost the utilization of new PHS plants. China’s PHS installations are expected to grow from 30 GW in 2013 to 60 GW in 2020.

New Energy Vehicles – MIIT statistics show >100% growth in EV production: China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology released new statistics for Jan-July 2014 showing impressive growth in electric vehicle production.  According to MIIT, new energy vehicle production reached 25,900 vehicles, up 280%, with pure EV production reaching 13,800, up 700%, and plug-in hybrid production reaching 5,027, up 1000%. (China Smart Grid CN)

Energy Storage – Chinese PV manufacturer invests in U.S. storage company: Shunfeng Photovoltaic International acquired a 30% stake in U.S. based energy storage manufacturer Powin Energy for US$25 million. Shunfeng’s Chairman, Zhang Yi, highlighted the “strategic signifance” of Powin’s technology to it’s China and global energy storage market plans. (WSJ EN)

Solar – Hefei, Anhui announces additional subsidies for residential and building integrated PV: Following the lead of many other provinces and cities, Hefei announced additional subsidies beyond the central government’s distributed PV production tariff. The city-level government will provide RMB 4/Watt residential and RMB 2/Watt BIPV to support local adoption. (BJX CN)

Regulation – Beijing to ban coal use in urban districts: The Beijing government announced plans to end the use of coal within urban Beijing by 2020 (Beijing EPB, in Chinese). This is the latest in a series of anti-pollution measures; Guangdong, and Dongguan in particular, have made moves in a similar direction.

Solar – Continued government support for PV: The Chinese government initially rolled out guidelines allowing for an additional 14 GW of centrally subsidized PV installations in 2014. In the first half of the year, only 2.3 GW of large-scale PV projects and .99 GW of distributed PV projects were added in China (NEA, in Chinese). However, there is new support from the Beijing government (ChinaPower, in Chinese), the potential for further local subsidies of distributed generation, and positive sounds from the NEA supporting a goal of 13 GW of new PV capacity in 2014 (Caixin, in Chinese).

Concentrated Solar Power – Demonstration zone FiT announced: Price range for generation in thermal solar demonstration zones expected to be set around RMB 1.2/kWh (BJX, in Chinese).

Natural Gas – 2020 Shale Gas production target halved: Difficultes developing shale gas resources led the NEA to cut 2020 production targets from 60-80 billion cubic meters to 30 bcm per year (Caixin, in Chinese).

Coal-to-Gas – Enthusiasm for clean coal option waning:  Before recent government plans called for a more measured approach in developing coal gasification plants (NEA, in Chinese), significant problems surfaced with Datang’s coal-to-gas plant (Platts, in English).

New Energy Vehicles – Incentives for private purchase of NEVs: Private vehicles will avoid certain taxes (MOF, in Chinese). 

Solar – CDB and Macquarie to invest US$ 225 million in Jinko downstream business: Jinko Solar announced that it will receive US$ 225 million from China Development Bank, Macquarie Greater China Infrastructure Fund and New Horizon Capital for downstream solar investing. Financing has been one of the main roadblocks to solar over the past year. (SeekingAlpha, in English)

Solar – Beijing DRC publishes new order encouraging distributed solar: Beijing’s new order specifies that the grid company has 30 working days to connect and inspect small distributed solar systems, and urges large coal consuming companies and government agencies to install distributed solar. (Chinapower, in Chinese)

Solar – Guandong publishes list of 610 MW of distributed solar for installation in 2014: The province expects to install 150 MW in Guangzhou, 110 MW in Shenzhen, and 80 MW in Zhuhai. (BJX, in Chinese)

Solar – China announces new standard solar PPA: The new template should enable faster approvals and financing for large-scale solar projects. (PV-Tech, in English)

Wind – 1H operational hours figures released by province: The National Energy Agency has released operational hours data by province for main energy sources for the first half of 2014. Total grid-connected wind reached 82.75 GW. (China connected 6.32 GW to the grid in the 1H according to Windpower Monthly, in English. Xinjiang installed 1.39 GW and Shanxi and Shandong both added 600 MW.) Wind plant average operational hours fell to 986, down 114 hours from the same period the prior year. Among major wind provinces, Jilin experienced the worst operational hours situation, with only 727 hours on average, down 110 hours from the same period the prior year. Curtailment fell 35.8% versus 2013. (Chinapower, in Chinese)

Coal-to-gas: NEA strengthens rules against over-building coal-to-gas: NEA has released a new notice forbidding construction of coal-to-gas plants under 2 billion cubic meters of annual capacity and under a certain efficiency level and restricting coal-to-gas in places with water restrictions. Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia have been constructing coal-to-gas plants at a high rate, causing severe concerns about water pollution and carbon emissions. (BJX, in Chinese)

Electric vehicles – NDRC publishes detailed EV charging implementation plan: The plan lays out details on encouraging low residential charging rates and free fast charging prior to 2020. Currently, Beijing plans to have over 1000 charging stations by the end of this year, Shanghai plans to have 1800, and Guangzhou plans 105 by the end of 2015. (Chinapower, in Chinese)

Wind – 30 MW Sichuan project over half complete: 13 of 20 turbines are installed at the 30 MW Fangdiping plant being built by Datang. The project is slated for completion in October. (Windpower Intelligence, in English)

Wind – Yunnan project to proceed: The 49.5 MW Xiaohaizi project that had been delayed for over a year has passed one permitting hurdle and will proceed with permitting. The China Hydropower plant had been delayed due to financing issues. (Windpower Intelligence, in English)

Wind and solar – Investigation of Gansu renewable integration reports results: NEA officials have completed a thorough investigation of wind and solar integration in Gansu, and made public results of each area. Of areas within Gansu with the most severe integration issues, Wuwei Huangtai had the largest amount of excess capacity, with summer and winter having over 75% of capacity as facing limits on production hours. (Note: not the same as curtailment.) Jinchang district had the fewest limits at around 25% of capacity. In 2013, 20% of wind and 14% of solar output were curtailed despite new transmission capacity additions. (BJX, in Chinese)

Solar – NEA offers new solar subsidy deal: Distributed solar plants of a certain size will be able to opt for either the local feed-in tariff rate (RMB 0.9-1.0/kWh, depending on location) for power sent to the grid, or receiving the RMB 0.42/kWh subsidy for all power generated. In Azure’s view, for systems in locations where most power is self-consumed, receiving the fixed subsidy will make more sense, but for those with low self-consumption compared to PV output, the FIT offer would be more attractive. In addition, receiving FIT payments would reduce risk for third party systems where the customer may not be credit-worthy. (BJX, in Chinese) The new policy also urges regional governments to set up financing vehicles to guarantee solar bank loans, and encourages banks to offer attractive rates and longer-term financing for solar. (BJX, in Chinese)

Grid – NEA approves construction of new high-voltage AC line: The National Energy Agency has approved State Grid’s Wumeng-Shandong line, which forms part of State Grid’s plan to bring energy into the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei (Jingjinji or JJJ) region. The 1000 kV line will connect coal and wind bases in Inner Mongolia to Shandong, running near Beijing and Tianjin. (China Power, in Chinese)

Grid – Tianjin eco-city to be included in U.S.-China strategic economic dialogue: The Tianjin eco-city is a test bed for a variety of different technologies and includes 12 different smart grid capabilities, including smart metering and EV charging. (China Power, in Chinese)


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