TIANJIN, May 22 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. new energy companies are looking to tap huge business opportunities in China as the energy legislation that backs renewable energy still faces uncertain future in their home country.
China has invested billions of U.S. dollars into solar, wind and nuclear power plants to fuel growth of the world's third-largest economy and cut heavy reliance on polluting coal-fired plants.
It needs clean energy technologies and products to help meet its target on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, said Zhang Xiaodong, deputy director of the energy research institute with the Shandong Academy of Sciences.
China has set the target of reducing the emission of carbon dioxide per unit of gross domestic product by 40 to 45 percent of its 2005 level in 2020.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke sees huge business opportunities in China.
"The opportunities are stunning in China because China has enormous economic growth and that economic growth has led to enormous demands for energy," Locke said in a trip to the northern port city of Tianjin Saturday ahead of the China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue scheduled for Monday and Tuesday in Beijing.
He is in China to promote exports of leading U.S. technologies and services related to clean energy, energy efficiency, and electric energy storage, transmission and distribution.
He led executives of 24 clean energy companies, including General Electric Co., First Solar Inc., and Boeing Co., in the Obama administration's first cabinet-level trade mission.
The trade mission came as Locke seeks to deliver on U.S. President Barack Obama's pledge to double exports and create 2 million jobs by 2015.
"All the companies are looking to expand their presence in China and many of them already had facilities," he told a press briefing.
During Locke's trip, the United Solar Ovonic signed an agreement to sell 500 kilowatts of its photovoltaic laminates to NYKE Solar Integrators, a Chinese solar integrator, for a demonstration project.
The two companies expected to work on additional projects as the demonstration project is scheduled to be completed in mid July, the U.S. company said in a statement.
The United Solar Ovonic has a 25 percent stake in a joint venture in Tianjin that now has an annual production capacity of 15 megawatts.
Liu Junliang, general manager of the joint venture, United Solar Ovonic Jinneng Ltd., said the foreign investor retained the right to take the controlling stake if the market expands fast.
"The foreign partner entered the Chinese market despite the huge production capacity in China, as it has seen bright market prospects here," Liu told Xinhua.
Locke said that China and the U.S., both leaders in clean energy, should work more closely together.
This will help to sustain long-term economic growth and create jobs in both countries, he said.
"More importantly, it will help answer the defining environmental challenge of our time: avoiding the catastrophe of climate change."
Zha Daojiong, an energy expert at Peking University, said that clean energy technologies even faces the obstacle of high cost when being promoted in the U.S..
Whether the two sides can work to realize commercialization and reduce cost will decide how far the bilateral cooperation can go, Zha said.
Locke said in Hong Kong a week ago that "concrete proposals" on the export control regime could be expected within the next several months.
"Various reports and studies have indicated that some restrictions of export control have inhibited U.S. companies' sales of emerging technologies," he said. "We believe that some of these restrictions we have on the U.S. companies make absolutely no sense."
China agreed that clean energy will be a highlight in China-U.S. trade cooperation. Meanwhile, China urges the United States to take moves toward easing restrictions on exports to China.
"The clean energy projects involve huge investments and long-term planning. The U.S. export restrictions, if not loosened, are a barrier for future cooperation between the two countries," said China's Vice Minister of Commerce, Ma Xiuhong.