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Prompted by the government initiative to reduce the country's dependence on coal as an energy source, many Chinese firms are investing heavily in alternative energy projects.

The spending spree on clean energy and wind and hydro electric power is being closely watched by investors as these investments could have a far reaching impact on the future earnings of the enterprises, most of which are publicly traded.

Visitors talk about an equipment on display during the 6th Asian Wind Energy Exhibition in Beijing, capital of China, on July 8, 2009. The exhibition, attended by 445 enterprises from 22 countries and regions, kicked off here Wednesday. [Gong Lei/Xinhua]
Visitors talk about an equipment on display during the 6th Asian Wind Energy Exhibition in Beijing, capital of China, on July 8, 2009. The exhibition, attended by 445 enterprises from 22 countries and regions, kicked off here Wednesday. [Gong Lei/Xinhua]

China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), one of the country's largest shipbuilders, has said it would invest about 200 million yuan (US$29 million) on innovation and research of 5-mW offshore wind power generators. It also plans to invest around 5 billion yuan for building related test platforms, assembly and production bases.

Yang Benxin, an official from CSIC, said the wind power diversification is one of its strategies to combat the financial crisis. He also predicted that sales of wind power generators would exceed 1 billion yuan this year.

CSIC said its profit in the first quarter of 2009 had risen 18.6 percent from a year earlier period, while revenue rose more than 11 percent.

In addition, CSIC said it plans to start making onshore wind power generators of over 350,000 kW this year. Production of larger generators in excess of 2 million kW is expected to begin in 2015.

Coal accounts for nearly 70 percent of the country's total energy consumption. To lessen the country's dependence on coal, the government plans to accelerate the pace of restructuring its energy mix and economic structure and seek a "green recovery path" from the economic downturn.

Policymakers said they are revising earlier targets to create a "greener" environment, adding that new jobs to support the new energy sources also would spur economic growth.

Xie Zhenhua, vice-minister in charge of climate change policy for the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said previously that renewable energy, including solar power and wind power, is expected to account for 10 percent of the country's energy resources by 2010 and 15 percent by 2020.

The nation is chalking out a plan whereby it expects renewable energy to account for 20 percent of the total energy needs.

Liu Qi, deputy director, National Energy Administration, said the new energy programs would involve investments amounting to trillions of yuan.

The first phase of the program would see a strategic shift in three years to nuclear, solar, wind, biomass power and clean coal technologies - with investment opportunities running into nearly 3 trillion yuan, Liu said.

The second phase encompassing the period up to 2020 would entail even more investments, he said.

Apart from CSIC, many of sharp-nosed Chinese enterprises are following suit.

Early this week, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation said it is investing 12 billion yuan for developing renewable energy vehicles in the next three to five years.

The investment will go to 41 hi-tech projects including new energy cars for the Shanghai Expo 2010.

In January this year, China's top offshore oil producer CNOOC signed a 15-billion-yuan agreement with the Tianjin municipal authorities for developing renewable energy projects.

The company will set up a renewable energy industry base in the city's Binhai New Area including a research and development center.

Analysts said that relevant legal system and policies are still waiting for improvement and the renewable energy market is still emerging with opportunities and challenges.

"The wind power facility market in China seems to be overheating and hence investors should be careful," said Shi Lishan, deputy director of the new energy department under the National Energy Administration.

Analysts also said Chinese enterprises need to be more familiar with market demands and also pay more attention on research and innovation to obtain core technologies when they are investing in renewable energy industry.

Vice-Premier Li Keqiang said in May that fiscal and tax incentives would be strengthened to promote application of new energy and environmental protection technology in the future.

(China Daily July 10, 2009)

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