Deconstructing BYD’s American Dream

Earlier this month, China’s best-known electric car company BYD delivered 30 pure electric cars to a taxi company in Shenzhen. The arrival of the E6 models, which the company describes as all-electric “SUV-MPV crossover vehicles,” was a historic occasion. It was also a warm up for the main event – when BYD begins selling the E6 in the U.S. later this year for around US$40,000.


Aside from the experiences of limited numbers of high-end vehicles like the Telsa Roadster, no one quite knows how the US will respond to electric vehicles. Certainly BYD’s competitor GM...Read detail

New Entry Standards are Going to Clean Up Wind’s Low End

Last week at the 4th China International Wind Energy Exhibition in Shanghai, hundreds of companies set up their booths and started swapping business cards. There were turbine touts, gearbox girls and pitch-and-yaw pitchmen. Crowds ambled through the rows of displays, collecting brochures and touching model turbine blades. There was little indication that, for some of the exhibitors, this may be the last year they’re in attendance.


About one month ago, China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) held a meeting in Beijing to announce a draft of a new piece of...Read detail

Thank You for Your (Technology) Cooperation!

Among the more groan-worthy clean energy headlines to cross my desk over the past two weeks, USA Today’s “Should the U.S. Compete or Cooperate with China on Clean Energy?” is up at the top. Now is the time of year when 2009 annual reports, statistics and, sigh, rankings are released. Thus, we are witness to the obligatory media tide declaring which countries are winning the “Green Energy Race/War/Competition/Death Match,” or what have you.


I’d rather not spend the rest of this column ridiculing why thinking about U.S.-China competition vs. cooperation is ...Read detail

Hearing a Voice at Beijing's 'Two Meetings'

It's no secret that China's annual "two meetings" of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference is the government's big chance to show itself as a united whole. Even after five years in China, the sight of delegates sitting in uniform rows and voting unanimously is still jarring to this American, one who's used to the vitriol and polarization of American politics.


This year, the "two meetings" went off without a hitch – without any major visible fissures in the Party, that is. When it...Read detail

The Next Saga in China’s CDM Drama

Clifford Mahlung may not be a familiar name to those following China’s clean energy scene, but he will be soon. After working as Jamaica’s lead climate negotiator at the Copenhagen Summit, Mahlung took the reins of the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism, or CDM, program on February 8.


The CDM, a feature written into 1997’s Kyoto Protocol, is a system that allows developing countries to build carbon emissions-reducing projects and then sell carbon credits to developed countries with emissions standards to meet. With many renewable energy technologies still struggling...Read detail

China Cleantech IPO Watch: Welcome to the Hangover

Last December marked the culmination of a heady year for Chinese cleantech IPOs. As wind power giant Longyuan Electric Power Group racked up US$2.2 billion in its Hong Kong debut – the second-largest-ever opening day for any cleantech firm – analysts were using words like “gold rush” to describe the coming year for Chinese cleantech companies. After all, Chinese green IPOs were a highlight of an otherwise dismal year for world markets. Of the year’s 32 cleantech IPOs worldwide, half of them were Chinese companies, accounting for more almost 75% of total IPO capital.


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The Challenges Ahead in 2010

I may be biased given my line of work but 2009 seemed to be break-out year for renewable energy in China. True, the wheels were already in motion. Renewable laws have been on the books here since 2006, and scores of both foreign and domestic cleantech firms have been busy in China for the last decade or so. But 2009 may be remembered as the year the world suddenly realized China was “going green,” by some metrics.


At time of writing, China has already become the world’s third-largest producer of wind power by capacity, and is now projected to reach a capacity of a ...Read detail

Lessons from the Copenhagen Chaos

It’s hard to write about the Copenhagen climate change conference and resist the temptation to recap the sheer drama of the two weeks. Every negotiator must have expected major struggles going in, given the wildly different priorities and conditions of the participants. But did we expect the walkouts? Secret “Danish proposals”? Obama “crashing” clandestine negotiations? Eleventh-hour calls to the Copenhagen airport urging delegates back to the negotiating table one last time?


Copenhagen was chaotic – much more than most anticipated. The eventual agreement that...Read detail

What to Think of China’s Carbon Intensity Target?

On November 27, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao unveiled the county’s first-ever firm target to curb greenhouse gas emissions. China will reduce its carbon intensity – the amount of CO2 emitted per unit of GDP – 40-45% by 2020. This was the “notable margin” referenced by President Hu Jintao last month at the UN meeting in New York.


Reducing carbon intensity – a metric unique to China – does not necessarily result in lower overall emissions since it is tied to GDP growth. Experts estimate that if China’s economy continues to grow by 8% over the next decade, CO2...Read detail

Not So Breezy: Chinese Renewable Energy Firms Head to the US

Chinese renewable energy companies are coming to America. In the last month, two major separate deals were announced that will see Shenzhen-based wind-turbine manufacturer A-Power Generation Systems Ltd. and China’s largest solar-panel maker Suntech Power setting up operations in the US, both industry firsts. Up to a dozen other Chinese solar companies are “seriously considering” establishing manufacturing bases in the US to raise their profiles in the country, according to a recent Reuters article.


With US unemployment at a 30-year high, their arrival comes at a...Read detail

From Hangzhou to Copenhagen - Two Critical Months for Sino-US Relations

As Chinese and American officials convened in Hangzhou for their annual Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) meeting on October 22, clean energy and the environment took center stage. With the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen looming large (one month away and counting), US President Barack Obama scheduled to visit Beijing on November 15, and US trade disputes against China swirling, there was much to talk about.


Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang called for the two countries to boost research and technology exchanges across a range of clean energy...Read detail

China Wind Power: Market demand does not weaken interest in wind farm construction

Joining the wind power industry requires millions in investment and strong technological support. And while it is slogans and other informal elements in wind power that attract the most attention, those who do invest share wind power’s bright future, provided there is a screening process for them to distinguish which projects have the best potential.


The first question usually asked by any reasonable investor is: Since the financial crisis has done heavy damage in the wind power industry, is there still a need to invest? Is now the right time to enter the market?

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