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"Aquaculture, not the Internet, represents the most promising investment opportunity of the 21st Century."

- Peter Drucker, Management Expert & Economist


Chinese firm establishes $115m JV to integrate solar power, aquaculture

China's largest aquatic feed manufacturer, Tongwei Group, has set up a CNY 800 million ($115m) solar power joint venture, accelerating its plan to integrate solar power generation and aquaculture in China.

Based in Lijiang, Yunnan Province, Southwest China, the joint venture aims to produce 5GW worth of advanced monocrystalline photovoltaic panels annually.

The idea is to install photovoltaic panels on top of fish ponds which use Tongwei's PRAS (partial recirculation aquaculture system) systems, reducing electricity costs and exploiting unused space amidst increasing cost of land. Underneath the panels farmers will be able to cultivate silver carp and bigmouth carp, which are at home in dark environments.

Open sections of ponds using the PRAS system will be used to cultivate other fish species, such as shrimp.

Speaking with Fish First, a Chinese trade magazine, Tongwei's new CEO Guo Yizhong said integrating solar power with aquaculture would be a "new industrial model" for the company.

Tongwei is already one of the biggest feed firms in China and partner of Danish aquatic feed company BioMar.

Electricity used to power oxygenation machines counts as one of the four biggest input costs for aquaculture farmers in China, along with costs of feed, fish fry and land rental, said Guo.

"Traditional [fish] ponds require 0.75kw per mu to power oxygenation machines. Based on production of 1.5t per mu, this equals CNY 0.80-1.00 per kilogram of fish," he said. Based on this, electricity costs of a standard pond of around 10 m (6670m2) can be up to CNY15,000 annually.

Tongwei's PRAS system already reduces electricity costs by 50%. With the solar panels integrated into the system, electricity costs will easily be covered, while excess power could be sold back to the grid, said Guo.

With Tongwei's huge distribution network, it is well placed to promote the solar powered PRAS to aquaculture farmers. However, Guo said that the scheme will still take some time to develop.

"Compared with our traditional business model selling aquatic feed, solar requires a completely new industrial model. 2016 was a year of establishing the fish and solar integration model. In terms of capacity, we basically achieved our targets.

"Operations management still requires some time. It probably won't be until this year or next year before we see the results. But we have invested a huge amount of effort to explore the idea and refine it," he said.

The joint venture will formally be established within the next two months. Tongwei will invest CNY 120m in the joint venture with three Chinese solar power companies raising the rest of the funds, according to Tongwei's company filing at the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. By teaming up with three solar power companies, Tongwei will tap China's fast-developing solar power industry, which is by some distance the world's largest.


Sources: SeafoodSource & UndercurrentNews

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