China 2012

I’ve been to quite a few Asian countries with my family on holidays before, but this was my first trip overseas on my own and for business. I knew it would be a very different experience. I was also formally invited to visit Zhangjiagang which is the sister-city to my own hometown Portland, and is also the home of the solar panel module manufacturer that supplies Keppel Prince (the renewable energy company that I work for).

The key purpose of this trip was to visit as many Chinese companies and factories as possible that could supply a key new Solar Photovoltaic product into the Australian market – Grid connect systems with energy storage. What that means in a nutshell is a hybrid between off-grid and battery systems, set up to store surplus energy rather than selling to the Grid at a low Feed in Tariff price (and if required, sell any surplus once the batteries are full), and on the other hand to use the grid for needs that go outside the solar/battery power capability.

There would also be a couple of weekends in China to try to see a few sights. So I had three hats to wear. Business; Tourist, and invited government guest.

I was equally excited and nervous and couldn’t wait to get started. But there was one other important point. The Australian small-scale solar industry was under an increasing amount of assault from the traditional energy industry - who were starting to successfully lobby Australian governments to reduce/remove all incentives for households and businesses to install solar. My extended goal was to provide information to as many Chinese companies as possible of exactly what the situation was in Australia, where it might be headed, and how they needed to respond to ensure that solar continued to be widely installed in this important market. This was my fourth hat to wear – a renewable energy advocate passionate about doing what I could to help mitigate climate change, and was very excited to be able to hopefully play some kind of role on helping the Chinese solar manufacturing industry, as I saw it as essential to providing affordable renewable energy to people all over the World.

This travel diary mixes all four purposes. Sorry if you’re only interested in one. Just skip ahead…

Day 1 - Saturday. Travel Australia to Hong Kong
Day 2 - Sunday. Travel Hong Kong to Shenzhen
Day 3 - Monday. Meet two companies near Shenzhen
Day 4 - Tuesday. Meet two companies near Shenzhen
Day 5 - Wednesday. Travel Shenzhen to Beijing
Day 6 - Thursday. Meet one company in Beijing
Day 7 - Friday. Travel Beijing to Shanghai
Day 8 - Saturday.Travel Shanghai to Zhangjiagang
Day 9 - Sunday. Zhangjiagang Government events
Day 10 - Monday. Meet one company in Zhangjiagang
Day 11 - Tuesday. Travel Zhangjiagang to meet one company in Hangzhou. Travel to Nanjing (MASSIVE day)
Day 12 - Wednesday. Meet one company in Nanjing
Day 13 - Thursday. Travel Nanjing to Shanghai and home


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