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Three Gorges steps up clean energy initiatives

By Zheng Xin | China Daily | Updated: 2018-02-09 09:58
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China Three Gorges Corp, the world's biggest hydropower builder, will further diversify its business into wind, solar, and other forms of new energy beyond its core business.

The Beijing-based hydropower company will boost construction of offshore wind power farms both at home and abroad, said Wang Feng, vice-president of CTG Europe, the European branch of CTG, the builder and operator of the world's largest hydropower project Three Gorges Dam.

The company is taking a fresh step in the European clean energy market after purchasing an 80 percent stake in a 288 megawatt offshore German wind farm operator, WindMW from US private equity firm Blackstone Group for around $1.8 billion, which CTG described as one of the most promising offshore wind businesses in Europe.

The acquisition not only enables it to gain assets but also talents in the wind power sector, as China still lags European peers in the offshore wind power sector in both volume and technology, said Wang.

Germany is one of the leading offshore wind power markets in the world, with its 1,055 turbines in operation that generated 4,749 MW in the third quarter of 2017. The Chinese hydropower company has started to explore various forms of new energy beyond the hydropower sector, as potential new domestic hydropower opportunities have dried up.

The company has also been constructing offshore wind power projects in China's Fujian, Jiangsu, Liaoning, Hebei and Guangdong provinces, with an eye on becoming the pioneer and leader of China's offshore wind power sector.

The company's Jiangsu Xiangshui offshore wind farm, China's first wind power project to transmit power via an offshore transformer substation constructed in the outer waters of Xiangshui county in Jiangsu, started commercial operation in 2016, said the company.

Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economic Research at Xiamen University, said: "The shift toward wind power is a smart move."

Lin said not many large hydropower projects remain untapped in China while the offshore wind industry has huge potential for growth in the long term.

Joseph Jacobelli, a senior analyst of Asian utilities at Bloomberg Intelligence in Hong Kong, said many Chinese power companies are acquiring renewable energy assets as well as large-scale solar farms and hydro projects.

"The overseas investment of Chinese clean energy companies will continue in the foreseeable future, if not even accelerate," he said.

"They are driven by encouraging domestic policies, funding backing, hope to diversify earnings or simply deploy their know-how or technology abroad."

Jacobelli said the overseas activity comes as the domestic energy market remained oversupplied partly because of the slowdown in power demand growth as the economy becomes reliant less on energy-intensive industries, as well as the country's Belt and Road Initiative.

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