China backs aquaculture solar drive with subsidies

Government money is being channeled into encouraging farmers to install solar panels on aquaculture facilities in one of China’s key crayfish production regions. 

China is the world’s leading manufacturer of solar panels, as well as the leading installer. China appears to be using that strength as part of a dual-pronged effort to both support the industry and alleviate poverty. The central government has backed a trial program that is giving residents of villages across Hubei Province subsidies to help them install solar panels which are linked by local authorities to the national grid.

One village, Guangshui, 200 crayfish farming households shared CNY 2 million (USD 315,000, EUR 264,000). . Households participating in the program also get a regular income from the solar panels, which have a lifespan of 20 years.

Crayfish farmers in Hubei have been encouraged to produce their stock in paddy fields or in conjunction with other species such as turtles (popular as a meat source in China) or shrimp. Yet farmers find solar a “less troublesome way of making extra money than by co-farming with other species like shrimp,” a farmer named as Wang told Hubei provincial television news.

Solar panels over ponds also helps survival rates, Wang said.

“It’s like a parasol providing shade in very hot weather,” he said.

In a separate effort involving solar panels and aquaculture, Chinese conglomerate Tongwei has over the past five years been installing solar panels over its tilapia ponds. The group has a stand-alone solar panel production and distribution subsidiary it uses for the work.

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