How about powering the USA, before powering China?
Here is another example of political blowhard foolishness. The Chinese wanted to impress Obama by embracing his solar energy priority and signed an agreement with a US company to build a big solar farm in Mongolia. First, don’t you think that company should be maxing out the solar opportunity here in the USA?
As it turns out, this could just be Chinese political theater, but it raises questions about what the Obama administration is doing at home to follow through on its stated energy independence priority. What’s up?
“Solar plan in China's Inner Mongolia highlights pitfalls for U.S. firms
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 13, 2010
With great fanfare, an Arizona-based energy company signed a preliminary agreement with China last fall to build the world's largest solar-power plant in the Mongolian desert.
The deal was hailed as the first major example of the United States and China cooperating on a big-ticket energy project, and the largest foray by a U.S. company into Asia's fast-growing alternative- energy market. The agreement became a centerpiece achievement of President Obama's visit to China last November.
Nearly a year later, the deal has not been completed and there is growing skepticism as to whether it will happen.
Chinese competitors in the solar business have complained openly about the U.S. company, First Solar, getting such a lucrative contract. A planned June 1 date to break ground has been missed. Government officials from the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia, where the plant would be built, say they plan to open the project to competitive bidding.
Many solar-industry insiders now say the deal, outlined in a "memorandum of understanding," was mainly a showpiece for Chinese officials to demonstrate support for one of Obama's signature initiatives, strategic energy cooperation.
What happened to the Mongolian solar farm project reads like a cautionary tale on the pitfalls facing U.S. firms trying to enter the Chinese market, particularly in a sector such as alternative energy, which has many indigenous competitors.
It also underscores what U.S. business executives here say is a lack of reciprocity in access to China's markets. About the same time First Solar was signing its preliminary agreement for the Mongolian project, China was making an aggressive push into the U.S. alternative-energy market. A Chinese consortium invested $1.5 billion in a 36,000-acre wind farm in West Texas, with all the wind turbines to be made in China.
Murray King, managing director for Greater China at APCO Worldwide, a business advisory firm, said it is not unusual for Chinese leaders to race through with signing ceremonies for major business deals around the time of high-level foreign visits -- and to have many of the deals never go through.
A memorandum of understanding in China "is a first date," King said. "And not all first dates lead to marriage."
In the case of First Solar, it signed a "partnership agreement" with the city of Ordos on Sept. 8, 2009, to build a huge 2,000-megawatt solar farm in phases over several years. The plant, when complete, would provide power for as many as 3 million households.
On Nov. 18, First Solar's president, Bruce Sohn, and the mayor of Ordos, Yun Guangzhong, signed a separate framework agreement, in the presence of top Chinese leaders and U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. The 11-year-old company is the world's largest maker of thin-film photovoltaic modules and has been expanding into constructing solar farms. The signing was part of the summit between Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao.
"First Solar's inability to move forward with this [agreement] doesn't make China look too good, especially as they claim to 'open market access' to Western companies," said Andy Klump, managing director of Clean Energy Associates, a solar advisory firm. "Typically, there's always a big bang and a lot of press when these agreements are signed, but they often don't come to fruition."”