The London REE Report: Under Estimating Demand

More than 30 leading Chinese companies and research institutes in solar energy came together to form the National Alliance for Solar Thermal Energy, Ministry of Science and Technology, in October 2009. The alliance is committed to building a 1,000 megawatt solar thermal power plant in west China between 2011 and 2015.

Roughly half the world’s population lives in Asia, where our western perceptions of much of Asia are rapidly becoming out of date. Yesterday, South Korea staged its first Formula 1 Grand Prix. Roughly 100,000 people turned out in the rain to pay 117,000 Won to 920,000 Won for their tickets. Roughly £70 to £550 in Pounds Sterling, no small amount in anyone’s money. Asia is moving up from jobs and development at any price, to jobs and development at an acceptable price. Asia is going to be a big consumer of expensive rare metals and rare metals products. Below, some of the recent developments that suggest that Asia and China will quickly become the leading consumer of REEs.

Chinese think tank calls for refocus of auto industry development
SHANGHAI, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) — An official of one of China’s top government think tanks called on Saturday for the readjustment of the nation’s breakneck expansion of the auto industry as an explosion of new cars on China’s roads aggravates problems with pollution and congestion.

Liu Shijin, deputy director of the Development Research Center of the State Council, told a forum that the government should shift its guidance to automakers from mere pursuit of output capacity to environment-friendly and energy-saving targets.

Also, auto manufacturers should strengthen their safety and quality control standards, he said.

Sales of domestically-manufactured autos rose 36 percent year on year to reach 13.14 million units in the months through September, as lower-priced automobiles have become more affordable for better-off Chinese people, according to data released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) on Oct. 12.

In fact, annual sales and production could exceed 17 million, CAAM said.

Although the expansion has brought an industrial boom to the country and boosted domestic demand, it has also triggered widespread concerns over the country’s energy capacity, pollution levels and notorious traffic jams.

China invites tenders for first solar thermal power project
BEIJING, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) — China’s first solar thermal power plant began soliciting tenders on Wednesday as the country’s efforts to diversify its clean energy sources gathered pace.

The 50 megawatt solar thermal power plant will rise on uninhabited land of more than 100 hectares in Hangjinqi in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The tenders are scheduled to be opened on Jan. 20, 2011.

The China Machinery and Equipment International Tendering Co., entrusted by the National Energy Administration to oversee the bidding process.

The project is estimated to cost about 1.6 billion yuan (240.5 million U.S. dollars) and will annually generate about 120 million KWH of power, according to statistics from Inner Mongolia’s Reform and Development Commission.

—-Hangjinqi was chosen over other sites in northwest China because it was closer to the grid and had sufficient sunlight and water supplies, said Li Rong, head of Hangjinqi’s investment promotion department, who has spent about five years working on the project.

The project was approved by the National Development and Reform Commission in 2007. Its initial planning and feasibility report was written by Inner Mongolia STP Development Co. Ltd., a joint venture between Inner Mongolia Lenon New Energy Liability Co. Ltd and the German company, Solar Millennium AG.

—–Experts say the opening of the plant could mark the beginning of China’s solar thermal power industry.

Solar thermal power plants have greater potential than photovoltaic power plants and may even challenge traditional thermal power plants. “China doesn’t want to lag behind in its development,” said Wang Zhifeng, a researcher with the Institute of Electrical Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IEECAS).

Nevertheless, the project has some critics. “The project is not large enough. The larger a solar thermal power plant, the lower the cost for each KWH of electricity generated,” said Ma Shenghong, another researcher with IEECAS. “Ideally, a solar thermal power plant needs to have a capacity of more than 200 megawatt.”

But analysts say the current project could be a basis for future expansion.

Solar thermal energy is still in the experimental stages in China. It faces the obstacles of low efficiency and high developing costs, said Luo Zhentao, an expert with the China Association of Rural Energy Industry.

While we in the west were busy watching developments at the weekend’s G-20 Finance Ministers meeting in South Korea, much of Asia itself was more interested in the outcome of the first meeting of CAFTA, the China-ASEAN free trade area. 1.9 billion people this decade are about to greatly increase Southeast Asian trade.   Greatly improve their standard of living and wealth. CAFTA right now represents about 10% of World GDP. In 2020?

Seventh China-ASEAN Expo closes in south China, boosting FTA operations
NANNING, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) — The 7th China-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Expo has helped forge closer ties between China and ASEAN nations and promote the operation of China-ASEAN free trade area (CAFTA), an official with the organizing committee said here Sunday.

The six-day event, which closed here Sunday in Nanning, capital of south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, had been “productive” and “fruitful”, said Chen Wu, Vice Co-chair and Secretary General of the China-ASEAN Expo Organizing Committee, and also Guangxi’s Vice Governor.

“The Expo has reinforced the China-ASEAN strategic partnership, strengthened regional economic cooperation and facilitated the operation of the CAFTA,” said Chen at the closing ceremony of the Expo.

This year’s Expo is the first one since the establishment of the much-anticipated CAFTA, which was formally launched on Jan.1, 2010.

With a population of 1.9 billion people and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of 6 trillion U.S. dollars, CAFTA ranks as the world’s third largest trade zone following the North American FTA and the European FTA.

As of 4 p.m. Sunday, trade deals signed at this year’s expo were worth 1.71 billion U.S. dollars, up 3.5 percent from last year’s event, while a total of 135 cross-border economic cooperation projects had been signed with investment up 3 percent from the 6th Expo to 6.69 billion U.S. dollars, he said.

—- ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam with a total area of 4.5 million square kilometers.

From our rare metals blog perspective, it’s vital to be making informed guesses as to the picture of the world 2020 onwards. In my opinion, we are still greatly underestimating the probable level of demand for the REEs that make our modern high tech lifestyle possible. That’s good news for many of the companies followed by this blog.

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