OPES Solar Factory Visit in China

It´s been a while since I was i China, and this blogpost is way over due as I was there in October. I had to make the hard decision to cancel the rest of my trip due to a family situation, and have been back in Norway since then. A lot has happened, and my life has completely changed since my last blog was posted on this page. But better late than never, so here comes the last blogpost from The Solar Journey, that has been sitting in the draft-box since October.

Shanghai by night

I arrived in Shanghai after a short flight from South Korea. Never had I ever seen this amount of people, nor this amount of lights. The sidewalks were so full, we were walking in lines. China was such a culture shock for a Norwegian living in a country with only 4,5 mill people. Thats like an average neighbourhood in China. I love exploring all these cultural differences. Thats what made China so special and interesting. 

I spent a week exploring Shanghai and Hangzhou before my visit to OPES. 

Shanghai and all the lights
Went to a Dog-petting-cafe, and was definitely in puppy-heaven.
The welcome sign at OPES

OPES is a module manufacturer in China. Their headquarter is in Belin, and the factory in a smaller city called Changzhou, about an hour out of Shanghai. An hour on a fast train that is. The Chinese transportation system must be the best in the world. With their fast trains you can get from one side to another of this massive country in a matter of hours. 

OPES picked me up at my hostel and took me to the factory. I have met these people before. Tommy from Glava Energy Center introduced me to OPES at the Intersolar Exhibition in Germany in May, where we spent some time with them. 

It was great seeing Frank and Tom again, this time at their own office/factory, instead of a small stand at the Exhibition. I spent the day with them in Changzhou learning how they make their solar modules. This factory was different from all the other factories I’ve visited on this trip. 

Me and Frank on factory tour
The OPES gang
Checking out one of their many products

The biggest difference being that most of the production mix automation and manual processes, while the ones in Europe are mostly fully automated. Most of the machines are engineered by Tom, their own head of engineering. Such an impressive guy! We looked at every single machine, and every single step of the module production.  

I find it so fascinating, seeing how all the small parts become a finished product. It gives me a much better understanding of how the solar products work.

The reason for mixing manual work and automation was mostly because OPES makes so many different modules. About 60 different modules in different sizes and shapes, while normal factories just make a few. Making this amount of different modules would have required 60 different machines, for each part of the production. Thats not realistic, so they solve it by doing it partly manually. Tailored for their costumers every need.

They make everything from small chargers with only one solar cell to large modules, and everything in between. The most important thing for them is to be able to make whatever the costumer needs. 

When a production process is efficient and seems to be quite good, that’s when Tom makes a machine to replace the manual work. That way the employees can focus on making the next type of module.

Me, Tom and one of their many products

Me and Frank also went for a stroll around the area, to check out the different factories nearby before they drove me back to the train station. 

It was so great seeing these guys again! Thank you so much!

China marked the last stop on The Solar Journey. It has been an incredible year, and an adventure of a lifetime. Never have I ever learned so much in such a short while ever before. My idea of going on a solar training journey to learn directly from the world, really paid off. I travelled to over 30 countries last year and made 19 stops in 14 countries on 4 continents on the Solar Journey. This trip was the perfect combination of work and play. A balance of learning from the world while exploring it. I have met and learned from the smartest and most impressive people in the solar business worldwide. I have made myself a great network of people in different parts of the solar field, and in different parts of the world. I have been able to learn from the best, directly from the source. Something I never would have been able to do by studying more at home.

I’m so proud of myself for following my dreams, and so grateful for all the places I’ve seen, the people I’ve met, and the lessons I’ve learned. 

Here´s one picture from every part of the world I went to:

Installed solar panels in Ugana, giving people electicity for the first time
Visited Scatec Solar´s Park in Rwanda, and learned how a special school for genocide victims children called ”ASYV”, was benefited from it.
Visited several large scale projects in Zambia
Learned how to install Solar Power in Costa Rica, getting my hands dirty and finally understanding the practical part of it
Visited BIPV specialist ONYX in Spain
And ISSOL, Also BIPV Specialists, in Belgium
Went to the Intersolar Exhibition in Germany with Glava Energy Center, and met the OPES team!
Went to Fraunhofers CSP´s test lab in Germany
And met some really smart scientists at CE cell Engineering, creating the new LECO technology to make solar cells more efficient!
Solvis in Croatia!
Solitek in Lithuania!
Floating solar power at the SERIS test lab in Singapore!
REC in Singapore
The last stop was Sri Lanka, before I headed home after nearly 9 months on the road

Thanks to everyone who has helped me by sharing their network, to everyone who has welcomed me to their company and taken their time to teach me. You have all made this year the best one so far! Special thanks to everyone at Glava Energy Center. Especially Tommy Strømberg, for taking me under your wings, sharing your knowledge and network, and making this year beyond all expectations!

As I mentioned in the very beginning of this blogpost, my life has completely changed from last year. I have moved back to my hometown to be closer to my family, bought an apartment, a car and adopted a dog. I have also changed my career from being an Energy Advisor at Entro AS, to becoming a Sales and Business Developer for Solar Power and other green solutions at Haugaland Kraft. A dreamjob this solar journey helped me qualify for. I am so grateful, and so excited to bring all my new knowledge into my new job!

This is me the first week at my new job! I think I´ll like it here!

Thanks for following my journey on this blog.

– Christina

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