Solar manufacturing has gradually but surely shifted to its now strong base in China. We are discussing this with Jeff Routledge from Tigo Energy. By traversing the Smart Energy show it soon becomes apparent what a significant quantity of solar manufacturing for is occurring in China.
However, there are also other countries still in the manufacturing race, such as Thailand, the Philippines and the United States. There is also potential in Vietnam.
Maybe the Australian Federal Government has to discover the potential and actively drive policies that allows increased local manufacturing in the renewable space.
Is the solar industry run by China?
I visit the Smart Energy event and the renewable events regularly. And what I always notice is that in the olden days, a lot of stuff was made in Germany.
Nowadays, there’s only one country that dominates, and that country is, surprise, surprise, China.
Markus Lambert: Now, our own relationship with China is, at the moment, a little bit ambivalent. Are we trying to be friends? Where are we drawing the line, and are we supporting America over China? Where’s their relationship going? Lots of questions.
But if we want to grow renewables in a lot of that renewable product is made in one particular country, what are we going to do about to have less of that dependency? Are we going to start an Australian manufacturing sector that is embracing renewables? That’s the big question.
Where is it Manufactured?
Markus Lambert: So I’ll show you where all the stuff is made. Tell me about your knowledge. GoodWe inverters – where are they made?
Jeff Routledge: To the best of my knowledge, China.
Markus Lambert: Okay, now we’ve got a panel here, a JA Solar panel; where are they made?
Jeff Routledge: To my knowledge, China.
Markus Lambert: Suntech is a different brand. Where is that one manufactured?
Jeff Routledge: Oh, China.
Markus Lambert: SolarEdge, is an Israeli company.
Jeff Routledge: China.
So what product is not made in China?
Markus Lambert: Oh, come on! We got to find something. RESU batteries are interesting it’s called RESU. Oh, it’s got an LG logo on it. It must be Korean. But, I’m sorry to say, I know with great expertise that some of the internal battery satchels are made in China. Made in Korea as well, but some models are made in China. So our renewable industry really is very much a Chinese industry at the moment. So, as our world needs more and more renewables…..
Jeff Routledge: China.
Markus Lambert: China is going to do really well. Now you work for Tigo Energy. Where is your product made?
Jeff Routledge: Thailand, the Philippines, China and the US. We are diversified.
Markus Lambert: Okay, is it the same product made in different places?
Jeff Routledge: Different products. So our communication equipment is predominately from the US. Our optimisers are made in the other three factories Philippines, China and Thailand.
Markus Lambert: Thailand. Okay. So we are getting a bit of variety now.
Jeff Routledge: We are, and I hear quite a few manufacturers eyeing or potentially doing business in Vietnam as well, so there’s some hope of a change happening.
Markus Lambert: Look, I personally don’t have a problem if the products are made in China. If it’s good quality, if it lasts, and is at a decent price point, there is nothing wrong with it.
What about Australian-made?
Markus Lambert: I mean, do you think Australia’s ever going to come back to any manufacturing in that renewable space?
Jeff Routledge: I would love to think that we would actually make an investment or consider it important. I don’t know if it will, but if the government, with some willpower, comes in, then yes, I think it’s possible. But they have to desire to do it. I think it’s foolish not to
Markus Lambert: Okay. So, Mr. Prime Minister, it’s up to you!
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