What better time to consider the business of the sun than during the week of Earth Day? And apropos of Earth Day let’s also consider how the energy of the sun is creating world unity through more international business, more specifically a trend of US solar companies focusing on China.
“Let China sleep, for when she wakes, she will shake the world,” Napoleon said of the country, perhaps one of the few places he didn’t hope to conquer. China is indeed awakening, especially now that the sun – in the form of solar and other clean energy investments – is shining a little more brightly in its face.
In 2009 US investments in clean energy totaled $18.6 billion while China devoted more than $34.6 billion to that sector. It was the first year that China outpaced the US in clean energy investment. US clean energy companies – especially solar firms – are taking notice. Here are a few of them that are waking up to business opportunities provided by the groggy giant.
In the fall of 2009 Applied Materials launched a solar R&D facility in Xian, China. The move coincides with the relocation of the company’s chief technology officer, Mark Pinto, to Beijing. Regarding low-interest loans, land subsidies, and other advantages available in China, Pinto told reporters, “We haven’t seen this in high tech manufacturing before.”
Though owned by UK oil giant BP, BP Solar International is headquartered in Maryland. It has plants in China as well as in the US and India. The company’s parent, BP, maintains a solar-power joint venture with Xinjiang SunOasis, also in Xian.
Evergreen Solar is transferring the final assembling of its solar panels from Massachusetts to Wuhan, China. The company’s CEO, Rick Feldt, explained to analysts, “We’re going to China as quickly as we can.”
4. First Solar
First Solar, headquartered in Arizona, is negotiating an agreement with China to build the world’s biggest solar-panel farm. The facility will cover 25 square miles and provide energy for more than 3 million households in Mongolia.
California-based SunPower has a multi-year polysilicon supply agreement with Jupiter Qingdao DTK Industries in China. According to the deal, SunPower will buy polysilicon from the Chinese company from 2010 to 2016 in order to make solar cells.