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Published on November 3rd, 2009 | by Zachary Shahan

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China Forgets "China-Only Wind Turbines" Policy, but Why?

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November 3rd, 2009 by Zachary Shahan
 

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about China’s new policy to focus on buying (almost entirely) “China-grown” wind turbines and wind turbine technologies with Chinese patents. That policy wasn’t a big hit internationally and China is back-tracking.

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However, is it changing its stance out of international moral pressure or a major financial incentive (recent deal) in the US? And who is to benefit the most from this shift?

China’s commerce minister, Chen Deming, reportedly announced at the 20th China-US Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade talks last week that they would scratch the “buy Chinese only” policy for wind turbines. Who is this benefiting?

Policy Change Aimed at US

This benefits both European and US firms, but it is targeted more at the US. National Energy Administration director for China, Zhang Guobao, declares: “The US had hoped that there would be no local content requirement in the wind power market and we agreed with that. So US wind power technology will enter the Chinese market equally and freely.”

Gary Locke, US secretary of commerce, is happy. He says, simply, that this “will open up China’s energy market to US companies and create jobs for Americans.” But is the larger international agreement really about creating jobs for the US? There is a little more to it, it seems.

China Getting the Better Deal

Why the sudden shift in plans? Perhaps because China is expected to supply wind turbines for a huge new wind farm in Texas. This $1.5 billion project is expected to create about 300 jobs in the US and about 2,000 in China!

It is great that wind turbine trade is supposed to be more open again, but what is the reason for it and is China still intending to monopolize the wind power economy?

Perhaps it was all good-will and balanced trade negotiations. Or, perhaps China is sacrificing a pawn in order to get a more important piece (larger portion of the wind energy market).

Related Stories:

1) China Wants China-Grown Wind Turbines, for Itself and Europe

2) Chinese Manufacturer First to Export Wind to U.S.

3) Biggest Wind Farm in World — in Texas

Image Credit 1: Chiceaux via flickr under a Creative Commons license

Image Credit 2: Chiceaux via flickr under a Creative Commons license

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



  • mike gotts

    20.00 dollars an hour or 50 cents an hour.ya the chinese will buy from us.think about it?

  • mike gotts

    20.00 dollars an hour or 50 cents an hour.ya the chinese will buy from us.think about it?

  • mike gotts

    20.00 dollars an hour or 50 cents an hour.ya the chinese will buy from us.think about it?

  • http://www.Wind4me.com wind4me

    any clean energy is a breathe for mother earth, we must reduce our dependence on COAL and this China Wind Farm is just one example of politicians not telling you the whole story…….APWR is partnered with GE to become the JV partner of the worlds largest gear box maker for GE in Asia ! China will definetly move up the pecking order of wind turbine production but isnt this really about making CLEAN ENERGY vs if its Vestas or Gamesa or APWR making the wind turbines?? LOTS of USA companies will benefit by this 600MW wind farm including KDN and GE and WGOV but remember, a wind turbine takes 18,000 parts to make and the USA if its competitive will get its share of wind turbine farms inside China before its all over! Most (19 of 20) of the largest wind turbine companies are foreign so the MAJORITY of the Wind Turbines built in the world is going to be foreign makers , the USA missed this market because we have relied on dirty, polluting coal all our lives!

    Let Obama do his magic to get us contracts into the future with China and let China build GREEN here and in China as China must get away from coal or they will kill more than 5000 per week in respiratory deaths! The WORLD MUST GO GREEN POWER or we die, its that simple folks!

  • http://www.Wind4me.com wind4me

    any clean energy is a breathe for mother earth, we must reduce our dependence on COAL and this China Wind Farm is just one example of politicians not telling you the whole story…….APWR is partnered with GE to become the JV partner of the worlds largest gear box maker for GE in Asia ! China will definetly move up the pecking order of wind turbine production but isnt this really about making CLEAN ENERGY vs if its Vestas or Gamesa or APWR making the wind turbines?? LOTS of USA companies will benefit by this 600MW wind farm including KDN and GE and WGOV but remember, a wind turbine takes 18,000 parts to make and the USA if its competitive will get its share of wind turbine farms inside China before its all over! Most (19 of 20) of the largest wind turbine companies are foreign so the MAJORITY of the Wind Turbines built in the world is going to be foreign makers , the USA missed this market because we have relied on dirty, polluting coal all our lives!

    Let Obama do his magic to get us contracts into the future with China and let China build GREEN here and in China as China must get away from coal or they will kill more than 5000 per week in respiratory deaths! The WORLD MUST GO GREEN POWER or we die, its that simple folks!

  • Karl

    Settle down there Zhuubaajie. The reason why China approved this 10 year contract was because First Solar agreed to build a major factory there which is their real cash cow. While the corporate headquarters are in the US but most future jobs, tax revenue, etc will not go to the US so like so many other companies in this field this will essentially cease to be an American company. Same goes to Evergreen Solar which is now in the process of shifting operations overseas. From an environmental standpoint this is potentially a good thing since products will be manufactured closer to its destination (provided the raw materials aren’t being transported around the world several times over). From an economic standpoint this is bad for the US, good for China. All depend on what your priorities are. Mine are the environment so I’m OK with licensing of technology and overseas manufacture IF the market is overseas. I am not, however, in favor of importing ‘Green’ or other products manufactured half way around the world. BTW- a little anti-American are you? … I know its in vogue to be of that mindset but just exactly how do you conclude that Americans are not good enough? The real reason jobs are leaving is not because American workers are not good enough. It is a simple fact of economics. Cheaper labor and ironically fewer environmental regulations which are the primary reasons.

  • Karl

    Settle down there Zhuubaajie. The reason why China approved this 10 year contract was because First Solar agreed to build a major factory there which is their real cash cow. While the corporate headquarters are in the US but most future jobs, tax revenue, etc will not go to the US so like so many other companies in this field this will essentially cease to be an American company. Same goes to Evergreen Solar which is now in the process of shifting operations overseas. From an environmental standpoint this is potentially a good thing since products will be manufactured closer to its destination (provided the raw materials aren’t being transported around the world several times over). From an economic standpoint this is bad for the US, good for China. All depend on what your priorities are. Mine are the environment so I’m OK with licensing of technology and overseas manufacture IF the market is overseas. I am not, however, in favor of importing ‘Green’ or other products manufactured half way around the world. BTW- a little anti-American are you? … I know its in vogue to be of that mindset but just exactly how do you conclude that Americans are not good enough? The real reason jobs are leaving is not because American workers are not good enough. It is a simple fact of economics. Cheaper labor and ironically fewer environmental regulations which are the primary reasons.

  • Karl

    Settle down there Zhuubaajie. The reason why China approved this 10 year contract was because First Solar agreed to build a major factory there which is their real cash cow. While the corporate headquarters are in the US but most future jobs, tax revenue, etc will not go to the US so like so many other companies in this field this will essentially cease to be an American company. Same goes to Evergreen Solar which is now in the process of shifting operations overseas. From an environmental standpoint this is potentially a good thing since products will be manufactured closer to its destination (provided the raw materials aren’t being transported around the world several times over). From an economic standpoint this is bad for the US, good for China. All depend on what your priorities are. Mine are the environment so I’m OK with licensing of technology and overseas manufacture IF the market is overseas. I am not, however, in favor of importing ‘Green’ or other products manufactured half way around the world. BTW- a little anti-American are you? … I know its in vogue to be of that mindset but just exactly how do you conclude that Americans are not good enough? The real reason jobs are leaving is not because American workers are not good enough. It is a simple fact of economics. Cheaper labor and ironically fewer environmental regulations which are the primary reasons.

  • Zhuubaajie

    Oh wait a minute, didn’t China already approved the $6 or $8 Billion, 2 GW solar PV project, to be built and owned by First Solar, just a month ago?? So Americans can only count one way, but not both, it seems. That 2 GW project is larger than ALL of China’s solar sales into the U.S. in all of history.

    Whether the 2 GW PV project would turn into American jobs, however, is however questionable. Yes, it would mean more finance jobs at First Solar’s California headquarters. But this “purely American” firm had long ago determined that Americans are not good enough to make First Solar panels. Instead they are made in the Philippines, I believe.

  • Zhuubaajie

    Oh wait a minute, didn’t China already approved the $6 or $8 Billion, 2 GW solar PV project, to be built and owned by First Solar, just a month ago?? So Americans can only count one way, but not both, it seems. That 2 GW project is larger than ALL of China’s solar sales into the U.S. in all of history.

    Whether the 2 GW PV project would turn into American jobs, however, is however questionable. Yes, it would mean more finance jobs at First Solar’s California headquarters. But this “purely American” firm had long ago determined that Americans are not good enough to make First Solar panels. Instead they are made in the Philippines, I believe.

  • http://www.windturbinestar.com/ wind turbine

    It seems that the Texas wind farm attract many attention as the visit of Obama to China in 15th Nov.

    The quality of Chinese wind turbine manufacturers need the test of time.

  • http://www.windturbinestar.com/ wind turbine

    It seems that the Texas wind farm attract many attention as the visit of Obama to China in 15th Nov.

    The quality of Chinese wind turbine manufacturers need the test of time.

  • http://www.windturbinestar.com/ wind turbine

    It seems that the Texas wind farm attract many attention as the visit of Obama to China in 15th Nov.

    The quality of Chinese wind turbine manufacturers need the test of time.

  • Karl

    I’d like to know how much energy is wasted manufacturing in China and exporting all the way to the US? The carbon footprint is certainly more than if these turbines were made closer to the destination. Same goes for many of the things we use everyday from cars to home building materials. I think this should be one factor when providing green solutions. Also, I was under the impression that the chinese turbines still have many quality control issues.

  • Karl

    I’d like to know how much energy is wasted manufacturing in China and exporting all the way to the US? The carbon footprint is certainly more than if these turbines were made closer to the destination. Same goes for many of the things we use everyday from cars to home building materials. I think this should be one factor when providing green solutions. Also, I was under the impression that the chinese turbines still have many quality control issues.

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