As China invests heavily in sustainable energy research, Mainstream aims to promote Chinese green technology around the world. In an interview, the CEO of the company Eddie O’Connor spoke about how Ireland and China can become partners in this emerging field.
O’Connor said despite challenging economic times, green energy is still a priority for the world and particularly for China. With the prices of other fuels soaring, O’Connor said it is in every country’s interest to invest in green energy.
"Imagine if you replace all that oil burning and gas burning with the wind power and the solar power which is your own and you don’t have to import any or pay out any money from your country to buy these fuels," he said.
"Self evidently, it’s a good idea for everybody. The world is on this one-off transition to sustainability and China actually leads the way in this."
O’Connor said China is already a leader in green technology and will continue in this way in the future.
"China is spending more money on research and development all the time and I would expect that that natural lead which is has now, probably largely based on German technology, certainly in the wind area, that that will become much more native to China," he said.
"There’ll be a lot more developments we’ll see coming out of China itself over the next 10 years and I would like to participate in that in any way that we can and we see we can add value to Chinese processes."
Mainstream Renewable Power already has ties with China and has worked on projects with companies such as Goldwind and Suntech. O’Connor revealed plans for an offshore project in Northern Ireland with major Chinese involvement in the next few years.
O’Connor said the development of a "China strategy unit" within the firm was vital for future business ventures and project capital. As the Chinese economy continues to grow, he sees the renminbi becoming a world currency by 2015 and thinks every company will need a China strategy.
"I believe that any company that wants to be a world player has to take into account China, the Chinese economy, Chinese demand, and the ability of China to supply technology to the rest of the world," he said.
"China is the major manufacturing center in the world now and the quality of its technology is very high, so we see China as central to our future development plans."
O’Connor said he envisages Ireland and China becoming strong partners in this field as the two countries, though different in scale, have many similarities.
"I just see that we seem to get on very well on the basis of respect with China," he said.
"There are an awful lot of Irish people working, going to China, buying things there, doing joint ventures with them and it’s happening at an unprecedented scale, I would say."