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June 25, 2007

China's cleaner energy tech

Over half of the 630 GW of power China will be adding by 2020 is planned to not be coal.china will go from generating 600 GW in 2006 and planning 1230 GW by 2020

155GW of hydro power to be added from 2007-2020.
Gas fired power plants to have risen to 85 GW, or 6.9 per cent of total installed capacity.
30 more GW of nuclear capacity by 2020
Trying to add 120GW of renewable power (mostly wind)

China is doing some stuff with biofuels as well, but has concerns about food security. By 2020 they want green energies to account for 15 percent of all transportation fuels.
They made only one million tonnes of ethanol fuel in 2005 but by 2010 China's ethanol-fuel production may reach as high as 10 million tonnes, local press reports say. China has agreed to invest in a $5.5 billion biofuels project on the islands of New Guinea and Borneo. According to The Wall Street Journal, one million hectares (2.5 million acres) have been reserved for the eight-year plan, which would convert tropical forest for oil palm, sugar, and cassava plantations. China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC), Indonesia's Sinar Mas Group, and Hong Kong Energy (Holdings) Ltd. are funding the project. (so they pay other countries to convert food production to biofuel production).

China's Suntech's (solar energy) revenue and profits are growing strongly. Sales in 2006 rose to $598.6 million, more than doubling 2005 revenue, while net income rose by from 30.6 million in 2005 to 106 million last year. Revenue this year will likely hit $1 billion.

Suntech, longer term, is going to be the Honda Civic of the industry," said Jeff Osborne, an analyst at CIBC World Markets. "My fundamental belief is that 80 to 90 percent of the market, long term, will be a commodity product and the Chinese and Taiwanese are going to dominate that (commodity) sector."

Alternative energy is becoming big business in China. In the past two years, several Chinese solar companies--such as Nanjing's Sunergy, JA Solar Holdings and Solarfun Power Holdings--have held initial public offerings in the U.S. Suntech did it first, in late 2005; because of the IPO, founder Zhengrong Shi is one of the richest men in the country.

Chinese manufacturers have also begun to expand into the market for solar water heaters. Meanwhile, The Jiangsu province has linked up with the Cleantech Network and Tsinghua University to create a clean-tech industrial park.


Cnet reports, Suntech is developing cost advantages:

A silicon solar cell costs about $2.90 to make, he says. Established manufacturers, who buy silicon under long-term contracts, have to put about $1.50 worth of silicon into the cell. That leaves about $1.40 to cover other expenses. (Solar cells are then wired together into solar panels, which you see on roofs, but the bulk of the manufacturing costs are associated with the cells).

Under its new long-term contracts, Suntech will be able to put out cells for around $2.20: $1.50 for silicon costs and 70 cents for other expenses. That extra margin will either feed profits or, more likely, help the company in price wars.

CIBC World Markets' Osborne identified other cost advantages for Chinese companies. Labor costs for a Chinese company amounts to about 4 percent to 6 percent of revenue. For a U.S. company, labor amounts to about 10 percent of revenue. Research and development in China comes to about 1.5 percent of revenue; for the U.S. it's closer to 10 percent. The Chinese government also gives companies based there income tax holidays.

Meanwhile, domestic demand could start to build, giving local manufacturers an edge. The Chinese government has begun to impose regulations to increase the amount of renewable energy consumed in China. Now, Suntech sells roughly 10 percent of its solar panels to China, but 90 percent of these are then re-exported to the West.

Suntech's stated goal, after all, is to triple manufacturing capacity in about three years as well as to move into new product areas like thin film and solar roof tiles

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