US wants the booming China clean energy sector to help boost its exports to meet Obama’s mission of doubling exports in the next 5 years.However the implicit trade barriers are too high for the foreign companies to surmount.China has managed to dominate the world’s solar industry and is on its way to doing it in wind also.Foreign competition faces formidable hurdles in competing in China as they have to fight huge subsidies and support both explicit and implicit in China.Foreign share of China’s wind market has come down from 70% in 2005 to 12% as China put high local content requirements and transfer of technology to support local companies.The government only awards contracts to selected foreign companies like First Solar and eSolar which have truly path breaking technology.The policy of the government is very simple – “Give Technology to Get Access” .
U.S. leaders want China’s clean energy boom to drive technology exports and are sending a sales mission to Beijing this week. But Beijing wants to create its own suppliers of wind, solar and other equipment and is limiting access to its market, setting up a new trade clash with Washington and Europe.
China passed the United States last year as the biggest clean power market, stoking hopes for Western sales of wind turbines, solar cells and other gear. But U.S. and European companies find that while Beijing welcomes foreign technology, it wants manufacturing done here and know-how shared with local partners. In the wind industry, foreign suppliers with factories in China say they are shut out of major projects.
The biggest impact of China’s industrial curbs has been in wind. Beijing has declared it a strategic industry and wants to build local turbine producers such as Goldwind Science & Technology Ltd. and Sinovel Wind Co. into global players. Chinese companies also get grants and tax breaks to develop solar, biomass, fuel cell and other technology.
The foreign share of China’s wind turbine market plunged from 70 percent in 2005 to 12 percent last year, according to the European Union Chamber of Commerce’s Renewable Energy Working Group. The chamber complains that Chinese authorities help local companies by basing purchases on upfront prices and ignoring a project’s lifetime cost, where more durable foreign equipment wins.