China – Longyuan to up overseas wind farm spending

China Longyuan Power Group, the Hong Kong-listed new-energy unit of China Guodian, will invest 3 billion yuan ($450 million) in overseas expansion next year, and three wind energy projects in the United States are already under negotiation.

Jie Changjun, general manager of Longyuan Power Group, said the scale of the wind power projects will range from 300 to 1,000 megawatts.

"We will make a big move into the US wind power industry next year," said Jie. "The US wind energy market will definitely be important to our future development strategies."

According to Jie, some US wind farms are better situated for wind power production than Chinese ones, so the US is an attractive place for Chinese companies to explore in the coming years. He said Longyuan will expand its business in the US mainly by buying existing wind farm plants and investing in its own projects.

Aside from the US wind turbines projects, Longyuan will also expand its business in South Africa, Hungary, Kazakhstan and Australia in 2011. Two to three of those overseas wind farm projects will undergo major development next year.

Longyuan has said it will begin construction of five wind power plants in South Africa in the second quarter of 2011.

Jie said that even though Longyuan is very experienced in domestic new-energy projects, it is unfamiliar with foreign markets, so the overseas expansion will take time and require patience.

"We did run into some troubles in the US," said Jie. "Because of the difference in laws between various US states, Chinese energy players need more time to learn the market and make the right decisions. The US Section 301 investigation into China’s green energy sector also influenced the company’s overseas negotiation schedule and made it longer than expected," he said.

Longyuan, the largest wind farm operator in Asia, aims to be the world’s top wind-energy developer by the end of 2015. It will own installed capacity of 11,000 megawatts by the end of 2012 and 18,000 megawatts by the end of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), surpassing Spanish company Iberdrola Renovables, currently the leader in wind energy, which has an installed capacity of 13,000 megawatts.

Meng Lingbin, deputy general manager of China Datang Corporation Renewable Power Co Ltd, said a thorough evaluation is essential before any investment in the US because of the different government policies and business environment there.

"At present, our company doesn’t have plans to move into the US wind market. We need a comprehensive plan and evaluation to ensure profits before we take any action," he said.