BAODING, CHINA (AP) - Solar panels jut out of streetlights in China’s self-proclaimed Clean Energy City. Tiny wind turbines twirl atop public buildings. Schools are due to teach students about “green living.”
In the scramble to profit from demand for clean energy, this city southwest of Beijing is promoting itself as a manufacturing center for solar, wind and other gear by transforming into a living showcase of environmental technology.
“Baoding is following a path of ecological civilization,” a deputy mayor, Zhou Xingshi, told a group of visiting reporters.
Baoding illustrates the intensity of Chinese government efforts to profit from rising global demand for clean energy. Communist leaders are promoting solar, wind and hydropower to curb surging demand for imported oil and gas and see technology exports as a route to cleaner growth and higher-paid jobs.
Chinese utility companies are required to install wind turbines and Beijing has promised to pay part of the cost of solar equipment _ a strategy that is driving the rapid growth of Baoding and other supply centers.
China led the world in clean energy investment last year at $54.4 billion, up 39 percent from 2009, according to a March report by the Pew Charitable Trust. Worldwide, investment rose 30 percent to $243 billion.
Baoding, 90 miles (150 kilometers) from the Chinese capital in the table-flat farmland of Hebei province, started billing itself as a renewable energy center in 2002 after the success of Yingli Green Energy Co., a local startup founded in 1987 that grew into a major supplier of solar panels. City leaders officially declared Baoding a “Clean Energy City” in 2006.
Today, Baoding has two government research labs and 170 companies that produce clean power equipment. They include Zhonghang Huiteng Windpower Equipment Co., one of the biggest makers of wind turbine blades. Other fields targeted by Baoding for development include batteries and power transmission.
Baoding’s clean energy companies had 45 billion yuan ($7 billion) in revenue last year, according to the city government. It says the local industry should grow by 30 percent a year through 2016.
Local authorities work closely with companies, organizing job fairs, providing training and helping to recruit employees through local schools.
Companies also are attracted by Baoding’s “funding resources,” said Lian Shujun, deputy director of the Baoding National New and High-Tech Industrial Development Zone.
Lian gave no details but Chinese companies in favored industries can receive government support ranging from tax breaks and low-interest loans to free rent in business parks.
Such support has prompted complaints by Beijing’s trading partners that the government is improperly subsidizing Chinese companies and hampering market access. The U.S. government said this month Beijing agreed to rescind some policies that American officials said amounted to subsidies to makers of wind turbines.
China already is the world’s biggest producer of solar and wind equipment. Yingli and other Chinese solar suppliers have long competed in global markets because their equipment was too expensive for domestic use. Chinese makers of wind gear are only starting to expand abroad but some domestic producers already are among the world’s biggest due to their vast home market.
The Chinese government says it wants at least 15 percent of the country’s power to come from renewable sources by 2020. It is spending heavily on grants and other aid to propel technology development.View Entire Story
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