In Wuxi, homeowners across the city only seem to be discussing one thing: how to give their home a "golden roof".
More than 350 "golden roofs" have appeared on buildings around the Jiangsu province city so far, and the company that installs them, Wuxi Tianshan Foundry Materials, is inundated with orders.
The "golden roofs" do not get their name from their color, of course, but from the money they can generate for their owners.
What makes the roofs golden are the photovoltaic solar panels that cover them. Forty to 50 square meters of panels can generate around 5,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year, which for some households is almost enough to totally cover their electricity needs.
The panels can also be connected to the city's power grid, and households can sell their excess electricity back to the grid for 0.42 yuan per kilowatt hour. Wuxi Tianshan is also developing an energy storage system, which will allow homeowners to store excess energy generated during the day for use at night, for example.
According to Wuxi Tianshan, a business or household can recoup the installation costs of the panels within 5-6 years or 7-8 years respectively, meaning that the owners can make a huge profit over the course of the panel’s 25-year lifespan.
However, there are strict regulations a household must comply with to install a "golden roof". The building must be investigated by a professional design institute before installing the roofs. The buildings' roof must be bigger than 15 square meters, and the bearing must more than 25 kilograms per square meter.
Homeowners wishing to get panels installed can submit an application to the power company, and the company should get permits from the county development and reform department before going ahead with the installation.