China's Leading New Energy Tech Penetrates US Market

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China's largest clean energy developer, ENN, and Duke Energy, an American energy provider, is altering the pattern

In the past, energy cooperation between China and foreign countries has often followed the model of “making use in the Chinese market of foreign technology and capital,” but cooperation between China’s largest clean energy developer, ENN, and Duke Energy, an American energy provider, is altering the pattern. Taking advantage of Duke’s huge market in the US, ENN will industrialize its solar cell components and systems integration technology in the US.

The two sides plan to establish a joint venture company registered in the US to become the photovoltaic power plant system integrated service provider in North America, and to jointly conduct the construction of a photovoltaic power plant and the business of building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) projects. Each side will hold 50% shares in the joint venture.

Clean energy is one of the three directions of Sino-US energy cooperation. At the Fourth China-US Energy Policy Dialogue held in the northeast China city of Qingdao last month, Zhang Guobao, director of the National Energy Board, noted that the development of clean energy is the field with the closest common interests and smallest differences between the two countries.

In July, US Energy Secretary Steven Chu looked at ENN, the only clean energy firm he visited during his trip to China. In ENN’s coal-based energy production “zero emission” technology testing center, Steven Chu was introduced to “zero discharge” and expressed the wish to receive relevant detailed data.

During his November visit to China, US President Barack Obama will sign clean energy agreements, and the relevant technical cooperation will be with the clean energy research and development center, jointly established by ENN and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Duke is the third-largest electric utility holding company in the US, covering energy services, energy transportation, gas distribution, venture capital, and power companies. ENN has been in contact with Duke since the beginning of the year and most recently in September, when ENN leaders visited Duke and the two sides nailed down the scope of their cooperation: developing commercial solar power projects, clean coal-based energy, bio-fuels, natural gas, smart grid, energy efficiency, and algae carbon-suck technologies.

A commercial solar energy project will be the first to be implemented. ENN CEO Cai Hongqiu says it is mainly triggered by both strong demand from the US photovoltaic market and government incentives. Duke Energy’s Keith Trent says his company wants to promote the rapid development of photovoltaic power generation, and ENN has a rich experience and leading-edge technology in this area.

ENN has introduced a world-leading silicon-based thin-film battery production line, producing large 5.7-square-meter panels with a capacity of 70 megawatts in the first phase, and more than 500 megawatts in the second phase.

Entering the US market will give ENN a share of the cake of the new energy strategy promoted by the Obama administration. The development of clean energy has become the core of Obama’s “Energy New Deal.” “The American Clean Energy and Security Act,” passed by the House of Representatives in June, requires the gradually increase in the electricity supply of energy from clean sources such as wind and solar.

“Technical + Capital + Market,” Cai Hongqiu says, will be ENN’s new international operation cooperation model. To enter the market quickly, ENN will cooperate with well-established local firms rather than try to go it alone, avoiding the time it takes to establish its own networks and relations. Cai added that ENN’s international goal in the future is “foreign turnover accounting for more than 50% share.”

Cai also says that the cooperation in the photovoltaic industry with Duke Energy is only a starting point, and that joint work in coal-based clean energy, bio-fuels, and other fields is also being promoted.

In the “Climate Change Green Paper,” released by Chinese think tank, the Academy of Social Sciences, it is recommended that China and the US prioritize cooperation in clean coal, energy efficiency, smart power grids, power-storage technologies, and renewable energy.

China hopes that Sino-US energy cooperation will lead to breakthroughs in four fields: new energy vehicles, energy-saving buildings, carbon capture and storage, and bio-energy. The Green Paper points out that if developed countries provide adequate and quantified funds and technology, China can make a greater contribution to reducing emissions.

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