China seeks Gulf partnership to push solar power and wind power

At the 5th World Future Energy Summit (WFES) which opened in Abu Dhabi Monday, Chinese firms are looing to sell their innovative products to the sun-rich, but dry and hot Gulf Arab region.

For the first time China has a national pavilion at the leading energy convent and exhibition in the Middle East to seek cooperation in the rapidly growing market in the region. Senior managers from China’s major solar power companies also attend the conference.

Five Star Solar Energy Company from Dongguan City in south China’s Guangdong Province produces water heater systems powered by solar panels for private homes. The 1990-founded company landed a major success when they installed solar panel park of 1,200 square metered for the 2010 Asian Games in Guangdong.

According to the company’s exclusive sales agent Solitaire Solar in the sheikhdom of Dubai, some 100 unites of solar water heaters from the FS-NPTS Series were sold to private homes so far.

"One unit costs 6,800 Dirham (1,854 U. S. dollars), and its installation pays off after five years," Murad Fahmy, Business Development Manager at Solitaire Solar said, adding that prices in the solar industry came down by 60 percent since 2008.

Vahid Fotuhi, a senior official with the Emirates Solar Industry Association said "there is interest among manufacturers in China to play a bigger role in the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and the Gulf region. The introduction of cost competitive technology by Chinese manufacturers is helping the expansion of solar systems across the UAE."

In his keynote to the forum, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao praised Abu Dhabi’s zero-carbon city Masdar (Arabic for resource), the first in the world. "That the UAE, as major oil exporting nation, established a symbol and fertile ground for clean and green energy shows the courage and will for innovation of the country, values which we in China share with you," Wen said.

The speech was echoed by Yousuf Al Ali, project manager of Masdar. "I like the premier’s speech as he calls for cooperation in renewable energy between China and the UAE."

"China has been on the forefront of transforming its industry to operate on low-carbon, low-waste energy usage," Al Ali said. "I believe there will be win-win success in the cooperation as the UAE is attracting international green and clean tech companies."

Ever Green from Jiangmen City, also in Guangdong Province, aims to sell their solar-powered water pump stations.

"We founded the company in 2007 and we produce efficient solar- powered water pumping systems in the market. The water pump stations are solar-driven and can reach for water up to 200 meters below the soil," Ever Green’s Vice President Calem said. "Our product is especially useful in desert countries, where the climate is hot, sunny and dry."

But the Gulf Arab region remains a white spot on Ever Green’s map, and Calem and his team aim to change this by winning sales agents and customers. "We see a great market here. Solar energy is just at the beginning in the oil-rich Arab Gulf region," Calem added.

For James Li, Sales Manager at 2010-founded Talesun from Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, it is also the first time in Abu Dhabi. Talesun, whose shares are listed at Shenzhen Exchange, produces automated solar modules. "Co-operation with other country is important to us, " Li explained.

"Our fully automated production lines are from German companies Reis and centrotherm, NPC from Japan, and Baccini from Italy." Outside China, Talesun has already won clients in Australia, the UK, Germany and the United States. "Certainly we aim to grab a share of the market in the Gulf Arab region."

Gil Lee, Head of Sales, at Nova Energy Company in Yueqing, Zhejiang Province, looks for a sales partner agent in the UAE.

Promoting small wind turbines at his stand at the WFES exhibition, Lee said that the potential for wind energy shall not be underestimated in the Gulf Arab region, "especially in the windy coastal areas where most of the people live."