Suntech’s Dr. Shi Applauds Australian Feed-in Tariff

By Paul Gipe


Chinese solar PV powerhouse, Suntech, applauds the Australian state of New South Wales for its adoption of a feed-in tariff.

The 17 November press release from Suntech’s founder and chief executive Dr. Zhengrong Shi congratulated the government on its “progressive new solar policy.”

“Suntech applauds the Premier and the NSW government for implementing a feed-in tariff to stimulate the growth of the local solar industry. The move recognizes the transformational role a feed-in tariff can have in boosting employment, developing the industry and moving to a low carbon future,” said Shi.

In late 2009, New South Wales introduced a “gross,” or true, feed-in tariff for solar energy of $0.60 AUD/kWh per kilowatt hour. The tariff, still timid by international standards, is good only for seven years for systems less than 10kW.

Shi has a long association with Australia. After receiving his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of New South Wales, Shi founded Suntech in 2001. Shi was recently elected to the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.

Suntech Power Australia provided detailed testimony in support of feed-in tariffs as the state considered how best to design the policy.

Last year, a submission by Jenny Lu, Suntech’s regional manager, to the New South Wales taskforce designing the solar feed-in tariff, outlined the key provisions the Chinese manufacturer wanted.


  • A FIT Should be Open to All Parties
  • A FIT is a complementary pillar of broad solar development, clean energy, and climate protection strategies. FITs fill gaps in some market segments that a Renewable Energy Target (RET) and Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) are expected to miss.
  • This FIT proposal ensures a consistent, state-wide, long-term design. Policymakers should support long-term guarantees to avoid boom-and-bust cycles that leave ratepayers doublepaying for the same benefit.
  • FITs should pay for gross power, not net power.
  • A digression-based FIT should be set carefully per technology in coordination with time of use pricing, net metering, industry achievement of cost reductions, and other factors.
  • FIT rates should be set per technology due to the very different learning curves of renewable energy technologies. European-style FITs recognize the different underlying costs of various technologies in setting the rates that the utilities will pay for the bundled energy or unbundled RECs. It is a multitechnology market transformation strategy that is more effective to encourage solar than any other competitive energy procurement strategy.

“In sum,” said Lu, “we applaud this wide-reaching, stable, long-term, transparent, and consistent approach [represented by a feed-in tariff] and find it complements Australia’s renewable energy schemes.”