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December 7, 2009

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Wind powers overseas investment trails

CHINA'S Goldwind Science & Technology Ltd is one of the world's biggest makers of wind turbines - a cornerstone of the booming clean power business - but is virtually unknown outside its home country, and it aims to change that.

In a Minnesota farmer's cornfield in the United States, the company is erecting three 20-story-tall windmills in its first American project and hopes it will help to woo other buyers.

"There are a lot of leads and we are following them up," said Kerry Zhou, Goldwind's director of development. "We certainly expect that by 2011 we can get good results."

China's market for wind equipment is on track to overtake the US this year as the world's largest, spurred by a government campaign for renewable energy to clean up its battered environment and curb surging demand for foreign oil and gas.

Now the biggest Chinese manufacturers want to expand to the US, Europe and other markets. Western suppliers could face new competition as low-priced Chinese rivals seek to profit from global efforts to limit climate change.

Chinese manufacturers could get a boost if officials at this week's UN climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, agree on new measures to spread use of clean energy.

China is promoting the industry as part of sweeping efforts to transform the country into a creator of profitable technologies. Utilities have been told to step up clean energy spending even as the global economic crisis cuts into investment elsewhere.

"China is a major player and will dominate the future development of wind," said Lars Andersen, president for China of Denmark's Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the world's biggest maker of wind turbines.

Chinese wind companies' technology lags behind global leaders. But their prices are up to 50 percent lower, which analysts say should make them competitive abroad.


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