Chinese Companies Making Investments in U.S. Clean Energy Sector
A growing number of Chinese companies are to seeking investment opportunities in the United States to build new energy projects on this side of the Pacific. As Chinese labor costs rise and export manufacturing is not as profitable as it once was, Chinese firms are coming to the United States for access to the highly skilled U.S. labor force and a growing U.S. consumer base for clean energy products.
Those were the key conclusions reached in a recently-released report from the Center for American Progress, a Washington, D.C., think tank.
Clean energy has been on the agenda of U.S.-China relations since 2009 for two reasons. China’s move toward clean energy furthers U.S. interests on combatting global climate change and stability in the Middle East, among others. U.S.-China clean energy cooperation also creates direct economic benefits for the United States because it helps create new demand in China for U.S. clean energy technology, services, and products, noted the CAP report.
Many governors and mayors across the United States view these projects as a boon for economic growth and have been actively recruiting the projects. In 2010, the U.S. subsidiary of Chinese auto-parts manufacturer Wanxiang Group invested $12.5 million to build a solar panel manufacturing plant in Rockford, Illinois. In 2012, Xinjiang Goldwind Science and Technology Company, a Chinese wind turbine manufacturer, developed and financed a 20-megawatt wind farm in Shawmut, Montana. In 2012, Chinese renewable energy company Hanergy acquired MiaSolé, a Silicon Valley start-up specializing in high-efficiency thin-film solar panels.
In 2011 the federal government got into the act, launching the SelectUSA program at the U.S. Department of Commerce in 2011 to serve as a federal government one-stop shop for foreign direct investment in the United States. In 2013, the administration allocated funding to support those efforts and to train Department of Commerce foreign commercial service officers working in U.S. embassies around the world to help U.S. enterprises and U.S. regional governments scout and secure new investors from overseas markets.
“These were big steps in the right direction,” said the report. “SelectUSA is now connecting state and local governments that are aiming to attract new capital with potential foreign investors—including Chinese investors—that are looking for new project opportunities in the United States.”