Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Dyesol and Pilkington Sign Joint Venture MOU

On 8th March 2010, Dyesol (ASX:DYE) announced a collaboration with Pilkington North America (PNA) to develop opportunities in the building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) market place utilising Pilkington’s TEC series of transparent conductive oxide (TCO*) coated float glass and Dyesol’s dye solar cell (DSC) materials and technology. PNA is part of the NSG Group (NSG), one of the world’s largest manufacturers of glass and glazing products for the building, automotive and specialty glass markets.

This announcement is to inform ASX and Dyesol’s shareholders that the two companies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to form a Joint Venture (JV) which will be located in the USA. In addition to optimising the TCO glass produced by Pilkington and the DSC materials and technology controlled by Dyesol, the joint venture will develop and deliver a total platform solution to downstream suppliers to the building and construction markets seeking to develop glass-based BIPV products. The opportunities for the platform solution include BIPV, solar panels, automotive glazing, photovoltaic powered displays, and security products. The proposed JV is planned to collaborate directly and indirectly with and assist organisations worldwide to bring products to market. The combination of Pilkington’s leading expertise in TCO glass, including their vast experience in glass products, plus Dyesol’s recognised leadership in DSC technology is designed to ensure that the best technology platform for long-life high performing DSC glass products will be available.

Marc Thomas, CEO Dyesol, Inc. comments: “Pilkington has the reputation for quality and engineering excellence in the architectural and flat glass market. Pilkington TCO coated glass has been used globally for energy efficiency and active glazing for over 20 years and Pilkington is the market leader. PNA has maintained its leadership position by producing the best performing and highest quality TCO glass (sold under the TEC product line). Pilkington TEC product is the most specified TCO glass worldwide and has been the glass of choice for Dyesol’s DSC development programme since its inception in 1994.”

By far the biggest potential market for DSC glass is in BIPV. Of the nearly 50 million tonnes of flat glass produced annually, about 90% is used in buildings. When this is coupled with the fact that over 50% of all electricity worldwide is utilised in buildings, the demand for energy efficient and energy producing glazing and interior glass-based products in buildings becomes easy to identify. While all photovoltaic technologies can be applied to roofs in good solar environments, only DSC can produce power all day every day in any sunlight condition. The world is becoming increasingly urbanised and world’s cities comprise a much larger proportion of walls and facades than roofs. This is exemplified by the fact that the average GDP growth since 1990 is 2.7% p.a. while the glass usage growth is 4.2% p.a. cumulative. Flat glass is the key growth industry in the expansion of the built environment.

Richard Caldwell, Executive Chairman Dyesol Limited notes “Dyesol is committed to establishing best-in-class partnerships with the leaders in market segments which leverage the strengths of Dyesol’s DSC products and technology. The addition of Pilkington also aligns with the existing Corus programme, and strategically positions Dyesol and its partners to make significant progress in advancing the glass and metal based BIPV markets, respectively. In summary, Dyesol has now established strategic relationships with global leaders to completely cover a building with energy harvesting technologies which utilise Dyesol materials.”

Richard Altman, President of Building Products North America stated, “Pilkington has been involved in various ongoing solar initiatives since the late 1980’s. The Dyesol initiative affords Pilkington another solar platform to further expand our portfolio of strategic initiatives in this arena. Dyesol’s technology is an attractive BIPV opportunity leveraging the world leading technologies of both companies.”

*TCO glass is a float glass with a transparent tin oxide coating specifically designed for use with photovoltaic cells to provide heightened transmittance and improved conductivity properties.

For further information contact Viv Hardy at Callidus PR on +61 (0)2 9283 4113 or on +61 (0)411 208 951.
In Europe contact Eva Reuter, Investor Relations, Dyesol Europe on +49 177 6058804

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Dyesol debuts in Bloomberg’s top five New Energy Pioneers

Dyesol Limited (ASX: DYE) is one of only five companies in the world and the only Australian company to make the Bloomberg New Energy Finance New Energy Pioneers.

New for the 2010 Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit, the Pioneers Programme recognises five companies that Bloomberg New Energy Finance analysts consider to be highly promising and progressive in the field of new energy technology and innovation.

The companies – AlertMe, Magnomatics, Novacem, Topell Energy and Dyesol – represent a range of sectors, from energy storage conversion to energy efficiency and transportation. The companies were recognized at the third annual Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit in London yesterday.

“Bloomberg New Energy Finance chose these companies because we feel they are potential ‘game changers’ in new energy technology and innovation,” said Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

“The work they are doing is progressive and significant to the future of the energy sector, and they could play a significant role in the world’s transition to a lower carbon, more secure, smart, decentralised energy system.”

According to Dyesol’s executive chairman Mr Richard Caldwell, “To be included in the Bloomberg New Energy Finance New Energy Pioneers is a magnificent achievement for Dyesol. We are indeed proud and honoured to be recognised, as the world leader in our field,” he said.

In a world class performance, Dyesol also announced last week that the company has partnered with one of the world’s largest glass makers Pilkington North America to develop and commercialise glass with power generating capabilities.

Initially the collaboration will address the non-view glass market (spandrel) which accounts for 40 per cent of the total glass market.

The global market for flat glass is estimated to be 6 billion square metres in 2010 and growing at 5 per cent a year.

For further information contact Viv Hardy at Callidus PR on +61 (0)2 9283 4113 or on +61 (0)411 208 951
In Europe contact Eva Reuter, Investor Relations, Dyesol Europe on +49 177 6058804

Note to editors
The Technology – DYE SOLAR CELLS
DSC technology can best be described as ‘artificial photosynthesis’ using a layer of nanoparticulate titania (a pigment used in white paints and tooth paste) coated with a dye and filled with an electrolyte deposited on glass, metal or polymer substrates. Light striking the dye excites electrons which are absorbed by the titania to become an electric current many times stronger than that found in natural photosynthesis in plants. Compared to conventional silicon based photovoltaic technology, Dyesol’s technology has lower cost and embodied energy in manufacture, it produces electricity more efficiently in normal light conditions and can be directly incorporated into buildings by replacing conventional glass panels or metal sheets rather than taking up roof or extra land area.

The Company – DYESOL Limited
Dyesol is located in Queanbeyan NSW (near Canberra) and in August 2005 was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX Code ‘DYE’). Dyesol manufactures and supplies a range of dye solar cell products comprising equipment, chemicals, materials, components and related services to researchers and manufacturers of DSC. Dyesol has subsidiaries in UK, Italy, Switzerland, USA, Korea and Singapore plus representatives and agents in Turkey, Germany, Abu Dhabi, Malaysia, Taiwan and Japan. The Company is playing a key role in taking this third generation solar technology from development into commercial production.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

World's Top Polluter Emerges as Green-Technology Leader ~ WSJ

World's Top Polluter Emerges as Green-Technology Leader


BEIJING -- Xu Shisen put down the phone and smiled. That was Canada calling, explained the chief engineer at a coal-fired power plant set among knockoff antique and art shops in a Beijing suburb. A Canadian company is interested in Mr. Xu's advances in bringing down the cost of stripping out greenhouse-gas emissions from burning coal.

Engineers led by Mr. Xu are working to unlock one of climate change's thorniest problems: how to burn coal without releasing carbon into the atmosphere.

Mr. Xu is part of a broader effort by China to introduce green technology to the world's fastest-growing industrial economy -- a mission so ambitious it could eventually reshape the business, just as China has done for everything from construction cranes to computers.

China looms large over the global climate summit in Copenhagen, where Chinese officials are pressing the U.S. and other rich nations to accept new curbs on their emissions and to continue to subsidize poor nations' efforts to adopt clean-energy technology. China is the world's biggest source of carbon emissions. Less understood is the way China is now becoming a source of some of the solutions.

China's vast market and economies of scale are bringing down the cost of solar and wind energy, as well as other environmentally friendly technologies such as electric car batteries. That could help address a major impediment to wide adoption of such technologies: They need heavy subsidies to be economical.

The so-called China price -- the combination of cheap labor and capital that rewrote the rulebook on manufacturing -- is spreading to green technology. "The China price will move into the renewable-energy space, specifically for energy that relies on capital-intensive projects," says Jonathan Woetzel, a director in McKinsey & Co.'s China office.

China's government is backing the trend. It wants to replicate the success of the special economic zones that transformed cities such as Shenzhen from a fishing village near Hong Kong into one of the biggest manufacturing export centers in the world. Set up when China began its economic reforms in the 1980s, the zones were designed to attract foreign investment into light manufacturing to kick-start exports. They became engines of China's economic boom.

Regulators will announce several low carbon centers next year that will have preferential policies to promote low carbon manufacturing and exports.

China's goals face big challenges. China could end up becoming simply a low-cost manufacturing base, not a source of innovation. Worse, its drive to cut costs could stifle innovation overseas.

And Beijing has a long way to go to reducing China's carbon footprint. For each out-of-date power plant it shut down in a two-year cleanup campaign, it added the capacity of roughly two more. Even some of the better power plants are run poorly because company bosses don't want to pay to clean up their emissions.

In the fight against global warming, some of the biggest gains are to be made in scrubbing carbon from coal-burning power plants. China and the U.S. together have 44% of the world's coal reserves, and aren't about to give up on the cheap and reliable source of power. According to U.S. government projections, world coal use could increase nearly 50% by 2030.

"If emissions aren't reduced from power plants, global warming cannot be avoided," says Jonathan Lewis, a climate specialist at the U.S.-based Clean Air Task Force, which has sought to pair U.S. utilities with Chinese companies. "The solution can be led by the U.S. and China."

Capture technology traps carbon dioxide gasses released by coal plants. The gas can be pumped deep underground, typically into salt caverns or aging oil fields. The carbon can be stripped either before or after the coal is burned. Post-combustion capture is simpler and can be retrofitted on existing power plants. Current versions cut energy output by a fifth or more.

Far more complicated is precombustion carbon capture, which involves completely redesigning plants. Coal is turned into a gas, the carbon is stripped out and the rest is burned. Called "integrated gasification combined cycle" plants, these cost billions of dollars and haven't been developed on a commercial scale yet.

China has a technological lead in turning coal into gas. It has been using the technology widely to make petrochemicals and fertilizers as a substitute for pricier natural gas. Houston-based Future Fuels LLC has licensed gasification technology from China to use in a plant in Pennsylvania.

Critics say current carbon capture technologies are merely a Band-Aid for global warming. That's because they're so inefficient that even more coal has to be burned to produce the same amount of electricity. Also, the technology uses a lot of water and sequestering carbon underground isn't proven.

Still, some analysts estimate carbon capture could account for between 15% to 55% of the world's cumulative carbon emissions reduction by 2100.

Among those leading the ramp-up is Mr. Xu. These days, he is busy with three clean coal projects. One is on the outskirts of Beijing, underneath looming cooling towers of the Gaobeidian Huaneng power plant.

Mr. Xu and colleagues work at a state-run research institute partly owned by China Huaneng Group, China's biggest utility. The state-owned giant produces about 10% of China's electricity, nearly all from coal.

The Beijing project, started before the 2008 Summer Olympics, traps a fraction of the carbon dioxide emitted by the plant, purifying and selling it for use in food packaging and for the fizz in sodas. Using what he's learned in Beijing, Mr. Xu is building another capture facility in Shanghai that will be 30 times bigger.

If Mr. Xu's team can figure out how to bring the costs down -- mostly by recycling energy lost in the process of scrubbing out the carbon -- these units could be retrofitted to coal-fired power plants around the world.

Mr. Xu is also involved in the GreenGen project, a $1 billion power plant led by Huaneng that will turn coal into a gas before burning it. The project is scheduled to go online by 2011. Burning gas is more efficient than burning coal -- meaning less coal is required to make the same amount of electricity. The less coal burned, the less carbon released.

Though carbon capture has moved into the mainstream, it is still at least five to 10 years away from becoming a widespread technology, analysts say.

In the meantime, China is reshaping two of the biggest green technologies in use already -- wind and solar power.

In 2004, foreign firms owned 80% of China's wind-turbine market, according to energy consulting firm IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates. Now, Chinese companies own three-quarters of the country's market, thanks to companies which make turbines a third cheaper than European competitors.

Chinese wind-turbine makers are starting to export. In October, Shenyang Power Group struck a deal to supply 240 turbines to one of the largest wind-farm projects in the U.S., a 36,000-acre development in Texas.

China already has a 30% share of the global market for photovoltaic solar panels used to generate electricity. Solar-power panel makers, including Suntech Power Holdings Co., Yingli Green Energy and Trina Solar Ltd., export most of their product to Europe and the U.S., contributing to a 30% drop in world solar-power prices.

Chinese competition is forcing rivals to shift production. U.S. Evergreen Solar Inc. said it will move its assembly line from Massachusetts to China. General Electric Co. said it will shut a facility in Delaware. BP PLC's solar unit said this spring it would stop output in Maryland and rely on Chinese suppliers instead.

Yet, despite China's armies of fresh engineering graduates, foreign companies still create and own most of the key technologies. "China lags about 10 years behind in technology," says Bernice Lee, a research director at Chatham House, a London-based think tank that analyzed patent holders on renewable and low-carbon technology.

As in other industries, China's cheap manufacturing may spark protectionism. In one hint of battles to come, Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) wrote a letter to the U.S. energy secretary protesting the use of federal stimulus money to support the $1.5 billion wind project in Texas unless it relies on U.S.-built turbines.

Critics in rich countries accuse China of unfairly subsidizing companies via cheap loans from state-controlled banks and dumping excess supply overseas.

Others say China's missteps could hurt the market for all. "China is making prices cheaper in renewables today, by lunging into oversupply, as it does in most industries," says Daniel Rosen, principal of consulting firm Rhodium Group. "The question -- and danger -- is whether by oversupplying the market today China is damaging longer-term innovation and competition in the sector for the future."

In green technology, China has figured out ways to turn excess capacity to its advantage. Until this year, China's solar-panel makers exported nearly all their output to countries such as Germany and Spain, where government supported growth in the sector.

That changed this year when solar-panel prices fell as dozens of new Chinese polysilicon-makers started operating. The sudden glut in the raw material to make solar panels coincided with a drop in orders from European companies hit by the recession. The result: Polysilicon prices fell by half from January peaks. HSBC estimates they could drop 20% more by the end of 2010.

Softening prices created an opportunity for Chinese regulators. Officials are now talking about raising solar power capacity targets five- or tenfold, so that by 2020 China could have more than double current global solar-power capacity.

Executives at Trina and Yingli say increased economies of scale from making more panels for China will push costs even lower. "We could go to $1 a watt by the end of 2010," which would be a landmark in bringing solar power in parity with conventionally produced electricity, says Yingli's Chief Executive, Miao Liansheng, a veteran of the People's Liberation Army who sold cosmetics before turning to solar panels.

"The Chinese manufacturers can now make [solar panels] a lot cheaper than Europe, the United States and Japan because the whole supply chain is now available in China," says Martin Green, who runs the photovoltaic center at the University of South Wales in Australia, a training ground for many scientists working in China's solar industry. "The Chinese are making it more affordable, and they're more adventurous in introducing new technology as well."

The ability to manufacture cheaply is attracting the notice of U.S. utilities. Huaneng says it can make gasification equipment cheaper than foreign rivals.

Duke Energy Corp., of Charlotte, N.C., signed a pact with Huaneng in August to share information on clean-coal technology. Duke says it would take eight years to build an IGCC plant in the U.S. -- versus three in China.


Write to Shai Oster at shai.oster@wsj.com

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Dyesol and Merck collaborate in dye solar cells

Dyesol Limited and Merck KGaA have signed an agreement to collaborate in the development of electrolytes for use in dye solar cells (DSC). This joint development agreement is the precursor to potential future commercial arrangements with Merck to manufacture existing and next generation electrolytes for application in DSC.

Merck is one of the world leaders in the development and production of ionic liquids which are key raw materials used in DSC electrolytes. Merck has patented intellectual property and vast know-how in the field of ionic liquids and is a leading supplier of materials for allied applications such as liquid crystal displays. Dyesol is the leading developer of DSC materials and solutions, having a broad portfolio covering DSC materials, product designs and manufacturing equipments.

The first phase of the collaboration involves the development of new electrolytes, optimisation of electrolytes for high performance, refinement of material specifications to assure ultra long life, and scale up for volume manufacture. Dyesol will contribute the results of the past 12 years of testing on over 400 different proprietary electrolytes that has resulted in DSC with proven stability of well over 25 years in European conditions.

Merck and Dyesol are, in parallel, discussing the terms for exploitation to ensure that Dyesol’s major corporate partners have secure lines of material supply and redundancy to underpin their investments in major DSC product manufacturing facilities, and that third parties worldwide have access to the best possible DSC electrolytes. As a result of this collaboration, both Dyesol and Merck will have the capacity and capability to manufacture DSC materials.

Dr Gavin Tulloch, Global Managing Director of Dyesol, said, “This collaboration arises from two years of planning and discussions. During this period, both Dyesol and Merck have recognised the great technical and commercial potential that collaboration can bring. Combining Merck’s capabilities as a major world force in chemical production and supply and the technology leader in ionic liquids, together with Dyesol, the leading DSC technology and industrialisation group, adds exceptional potential to the commercialisation of the unique photovoltaic technology.”

"Photovoltaic renewable energy sources are showing increasing potential worldwide. The cooperation with Dyesol, the world leader in the dye solar cell sector, offers us the opportunity to leverage valuable potential in this attractive market. In addition, Merck already holds an excellent position due to its experience in the electrolyte market," says Dr Emil Aust, Senior Manager of Ionic Liquids at Merck KGaA. "When used as the main components of DSC electrolytes, Merck's task-specific ionic liquids, partly patented, make it possible to use both solid and flexible DSCs, thus enabling outstanding new applications in the future."

For further information contact Viv Hardy at Callidus PR on +61 (0)2 9283 4111 or on +61 (0)411 208 951.
In Europe contact Eva Reuter, Investor Relations, Dyesol Europe on +49 177 6058804

Note to editors
The Technology – DYE SOLAR CELLS
DSC technology can best be described as ‘artificial photosynthesis’ using an electrolyte, a layer of titania (a pigment used in white paints and tooth paste) and ruthenium dye deposited on glass, metal or polymer substrates. Light striking the dye excites electrons which are absorbed by the titania to become an electric current many times stronger than that found in natural photosynthesis in plants. Compared to conventional silicon based photovoltaic technology, Dyesol’s technology has lower cost and embodied energy in manufacture, it produces electricity more efficiently even in low light conditions and can be directly incorporated into buildings by replacing conventional glass panels or metal sheets rather than taking up roof or extra land area.

The Company – DYESOL Limited
Dyesol is located in Queanbeyan NSW (near Canberra) and in August 2005 was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX Code "DYE"). Dyesol manufactures and supplies a range of dye solar cell products comprising equipment, chemicals, materials, components and related services to researchers and manufacturers of DSC. Dyesol has subsidiaries in UK, Italy, Switzerland, USA, Korea and Singapore plus representatives and agents in Turkey, Germany, Abu Dhabi, Malaysia, Taiwan and Japan. The Company is playing a key role in taking this 3rd generation solar technology from development into commercial production.

The Partner – MERCK KGaA
Merck is a global pharmaceutical and chemical company with total revenues of € 7.6 billion in 2008, a history that began in 1668, and a future shaped by approximately 33,000 employees in 60 countries. Its success is characterised by innovations from entrepreneurial employees. Merck's operating activities come under the umbrella of Merck KGaA, in which the Merck family holds an approximately 70% interest and free shareholders own the remaining approximately 30%. In 1917 the US subsidiary Merck & Co. was expropriated and has been an independent company ever since.

Friday, 9 October 2009

China's Solar Footprint Set to Explode

China's Solar Footprint Set to Explode; Creates Investment Opportunity, Says GTM Research

Oct 8, 2009 16:18
Nikkei Electronics Asia

Demand for solar panels inside China could explode over the next three years, presenting an opportunity for investors and select international partners, according to a report from GTM Research, the market research arm of Greentech Media.

China has a cumulative installed base of 140MW of photovoltaics (PV). By 2012, the report forecasts growth reaching 1.4GW to 2.6GW, driven by new state policies like the Golden Sun program that can cover 50% to 70% of the cost of solar systems, according to the two report authors, China-based Matt Miller and Matthiah Larkin.

During the same period, the full price of a solar system installed will drop from US$2.82 in 2009 to US$2.18, lower than in the US or Europe because of lower prices for labor, inverters and other factors. In the West, panels sell for approximately US$2 a watt. In China, a panel now sells for US$1.57 a watt.

By 2020, the cumulative installed PV base could grow to 10GW. As early as 2007, Chinese industry officials had aimed for 300MW by 2012 and 1.8GW by 2020.

The shift to solar could help deflect criticism internationally and more importantly de-escalate ongoing conflicts over coal mining and pollution in various provinces, but the main driver in the shift to solar is a concern over jobs. The country exports more than 95% of its solar panels. The global recession, however, has stoked fears that demand from Spain, Germany and the US could drop.

During the same period, the solar manufacturing footprint will grow from 5.6GW of capacity in 2009 to 8.1GW in 2012. In 2005, China had a production capacity of 400MW and a cumulative installed base of 70MW.

"Growth is likely to be lumpy and uneven, as bottlenecks will inevitably arise in the project approval and funding disbursement process," states the report. "There are many political layers involved (local government, provincial DRC, NDRC, and the Ministry of Finance, at a minimum), and because application volume will be extremely high."

Sunday, 27 September 2009

China’s green leap forward


Behind the notorious clouds of filth and greenhouse gases that China’s industrial behemoth spews into the atmosphere every day, a little-noticed revolution is under way. China is going green. And as the authorities here spur manufacturers of all kinds of alternative energy equipment to make more for less, “China price” and “China speed” are poised to snatch the lion’s share of the next multitrillion-dollar global industry – energy technology.

Chinese factories already make a third of the world’s solar cells – six times more than America. Next year, China will become the largest market in the world for wind turbines – overtaking America. This fall, a Chinese firm will launch the world’s first mass-produced all-electric car of this century. And where are American utilities buying the latest generation of “clean coal” power stations? China.

“The Chinese government thinks of renewables as a major strategic industrial option” that will help fuel this country’s future growth, says Li Junfeng, deputy head of energy research at China’s top planning agency. “We will catch up with international advanced technology very quickly.”

China will likely remain the world’s worst polluter, emitting more CO2 than any other nation, for the foreseeable future. Its reliance on cheap coal to generate the bulk of its electricity makes that almost inevitable.

At the same time, however, “this country is installing a one-megawatt wind turbine every hour,” points out Dermot O’Gorman, head of the World Wide Fund for Nature in Beijing. “That is more encouraging than the one coal fired power station a week” that normally dominates foreign headlines.

Indeed, China is pushing ahead on renewable technologies with the fervor of a new space race. It wants to be in the forefront of what many believe will be the next industrial revolution. If it succeeds, it will hold far-reaching implications for the planet – affecting everything from Detroit’s competitiveness to global warming to the economic pecking order in the 21st century.

“The rest of the world doesn’t even realize that we are very likely ceding the next generation of energy technology to the Chinese,” says Todd Glass, an energy lawyer with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati in San Francisco.

A 20-MINUTE DRIVE from the Great Wall, along the south shore of the Guanting reservoir, straw-hatted peasants tend their corn crop as the elegant blades of windmills spin idly above them in the gentle breeze, farming the wind.

Guanting’s 43 wind turbines provided some of the power for last year’s “Green Olympics” of which China was so proud, and they continue to generate not only electricity, but admiration: The wind farm is a favorite spot for newlyweds to take their wedding photos.

“They find the windmills beautiful and magnificent,” says Yin Zhiyong, the Guanting wind farm manager, as he shows a visitor around. “So do I.”

Mr. Yin trained as a coal engineer; when he was at college 20 years ago, wind-power courses were not offered. Today, he is convinced, “new energy sources are the new way of development. I’m part of the future.”

The Chinese government shares that view. The country’s installed wind power capacity has doubled each of the past four years, and is likely to exceed the 2020 target next year, a decade ahead of schedule. A revised goal, expected to be more than three times higher than the current one, will be announced soon, officials say.

Beijing has deliberately stimulated the wind sector with an array of subsidies and tariffs and a rule obliging power companies to buy renewable energy similar to a law now before the US Congress. So fast have windmills been built that the national grid cannot handle all the energy they generate, and much is wasted.

But the industry built by government policy is now looking much further afield. “Goldwind’s goal is to become a multinational and international company,” Wu Gang, the CEO of Goldwind, the firm that built Guanting’s turbines, told the “Securities Times” last month. “That is our business target.”

Already, he pointed out, Goldwind is building wind farms in Texas, and Goldwind acquired its key technology by buying 70 percent of the German company Vensys, not by developing it itself. That deal points up a key ingredient in Chinese firms’ strategies: If they don’t have time to develop technological proficiency, they will use their financial clout to get ahead.

China’s top planning agency is soon expected to announce plans to raise the proportion of renewables in the country’s energy mix to 20 per-cent by 2020, matching the European Union’s ambitious target.

Goals like this act as clear pointers for the state-owned power generating companies, where “the idea of planned industrial policy is in their blood,” as Ellen Carberry of the China Greentech Initiative puts it.

That approach is apparent in the electric-car sector, says Ms. Carberry, who represents 60 global and Chinese companies seeking to grow the green technology market here.

Two Chinese firms, BYD Auto (for Build Your Dreams) and Qingyuan are vying to bring an all-electric car to market this fall. In December, BYD started selling the world’s first mass-produced plug-in hybrid vehicle.

With the passenger vehicle sector moving forward, the government ordered 1,000 hybrid buses for Beijing and Shanghai earlier this year. It announced customer rebates of up to 40 percent off the price of new cars, depending on their energy efficiency.

Almost overnight, Beijing has focused world attention on the Chinese hybrid vehicle market. “They saw that Detroit was in a muddle, so they will leapfrog,” says Carberry.

The government has taken a different path with solar energy, refusing until recently to offer any encouragement of its use at home because solar’s price was still much higher than traditional fuels and incentives would have been very expensive. But that hasn’t stopped Chinese and foreign venture capital firms from investing in the manufacture of solar panels for export. Here, as in other fields, “China is a fast follower,” says Alex Westlake, a founder of Clearworld Now, which invests in Chinese green-tech firms.

Though solar technology is not as advanced in China as in the US, producers here have used the country’s traditional cost advantage to vault to the top of the solar sales league.

And when the government does make up its mind which technology to back, its support “will make the Chinese photovoltaic market the biggest in the world,” predicts Miao Liansheng, CEO of Yingli, one of the country’s top solar-cellmakers.

The sheer size of China’s market, and the economies of scale that size allows, are key components of the country’s advantage. “They are using their manufacturing strength and imposing cost discipline on the world,” says Mr. Glass.

NOWHERE ARE CHINA’S green ambitions more evident than in its drive towards new “clean coal” technology, which would help Beijing reduce its emissions of pollutants and CO2 while remaining reliant on its giant coal reserves. China burns coal to generate 80 percent of its electricity; the United States uses it for half its power. No matter how many sources of renewable energy those two countries tap, coal will remain their dominant fuel source for several decades.

Many energy experts are pinning their hopes on new ways of using an old technology, coal gasification. It cuts SO2 and NOx emissions and separates out CO2 so that it can be captured and then either used in industry, digested by biodiesel-producing algae, or stored permanently underground.

The US was meant to lead the way toward a near zero emissions coal-fired power plant by building one first while other countries, including China, waited for experimental data before constructing their own.

But the US Futuregen project ran into so many cost and political troubles that it was shelved. As a result, the Chinese government decided last year to move ahead with its own project. The Greengen plant, designed to be the most efficient and cleanest coal-fired power station ever built, should begin operations by the end of next year, officials here say.

In the meantime, two Chinese research centers, the East China University of Science and Technology and the Thermal Power Research Institute, have developed coal gasification techniques to challenge America’s lead in the field. Both recently licensed their inventions to American firms building power plants in the United States.

“The general thinking in the US is that we are 30 years ahead of China in technology,” says Ming Sung, a Chinese-born American who worked most of his career with Shell. “We think it’s a one-way transfer. China licensing technology to the United States is still very unusual. But it will become less and less unusual.”

He points to underground coal gasification, where solid fuel is converted to gas without even being extracted, as an example. China graduated 17 PhDs in that field last year. Only two graduated in the rest of the world.

Not that the US is a technological laggard, of course. US firms were developing advanced coal gasification technologies 30 years ago, but the Department of Energy lost interest in them when the oil embargo ended, complains Mr. Ming. “The US is very innovative, but everything comes to fruition in China,” he says.

Or, as Zhang Hongmei puts it: “In America, some people say there is no such thing as clean coal. It is very controversial. Here it’s not a question of debate or lobbying. It’s a question of doing something.”

Ms. Zhang is director for technology strategy and development at ENN, China’s largest privately owned clean-energy provider. At its spacious and exquisitely manicured campus in Langfang, 40 miles east of Beijing, executives live in villas by the fairways of the company golf course.

That is the kind of perk that has helped the company recruit many engineers abroad – both foreigners and Chinese whom ENN has tempted home. “In China as a whole, research levels are still generally low. We are at a very, very young stage compared to the US or Europe,” says Gan Zhongxue, ENN’s chief technology officer. “So we recouped many researchers from the US and Europe who are familiar with advanced technology and can then do something for ENN.”

“China cannot yet produce things with the credibility and quality behind the ‘Made in Germany’ label,” adds Jennifer Morgan, an analyst with E3G, a London-based environmental think tank. “They are not there yet.”

Still, the country has plenty of reasons to attempt to be the world’s next green-energy power. For one thing, it has few natural energy resources of its own. Plus, its pollution problems are so severe that it has little choice. The country’s outsized reliance on coal is literally a matter of life and death: 750,000 people in China die prematurely each year because of air pollution, a World Bank study in 2007 found (though the Chinese government insisted the bank cut that statistic from its final report). Only 1 percent of the population breathes air that would be considered safe in Europe.

Moreover, Beijing – just like US President Barack Obama – sees renewable energy as an economic boon. Building out a new global energy industry over the next half century will generate more business than any other sector, Chinese officials predict, and they want a hefty chunk of that business. “This gives us an opportunity to develop a new area for a new industry” says Professor Li. “It’s good for our long-term development.”

BUT THE QUESTION LOOMS: What does China’s rise as a green power mean for the rest of the world? Certainly it has its benefits. A China with more solar cells and electric cars will help reduce the amount of heat-trapping gases building up in the Earth’s atmosphere.

It could also reduce the competition for, and depletion of, dwindling natural resources – notably oil. If China rises as a green-technology manufacturing hub, it could supply the world with low-cost solar panels and wind turbines as it does now with toys and textiles.

Yet there are worries for the West, too. If green energy is the new industrial revolution, Beijing will be grabbing many of the jobs of tomorrow. That will likely hasten the day when China becomes the world’s No. 1 economic power.

“China sees [green technology] as an enormous market that is not claimed or controlled by any one nation, and there is an opportunity for them to do it,” says Carberry. “The combination of urgency; the enormous needs; a focused, systematic planned government; an army of engineers; and access to capital may define China as the platform for the green- technology industry globally.”
Mr. Westlake of Clearworld Now, echoing the 1980’s song by the American rock band Timbuk3, puts it more pithily: “The future’s so bright, you gotta wear shades.”

Climate change quickens