Striving for a greener Earth
Updated: 2013-06-13 07:35
By Ma Chenguang and Ge Man (China Daily)
In 1997, a young man named Cao Renxian gave up the "iron rice bowl" of a college teacher and dived into the world of business. At that time, such a decision was seen as a bold act, but Cao had a strong belief that he would one day succeed in the area to which he planned to devote his career - new energy.
He stuck to his aim of manufacturing power supply equipment for wind power projects and solar photovoltaics (PV) - technology in which daylight is converted into electrical power.
"I had been keeping an eye on the global trend toward new-energy power generation because my university major was related to that," said Cao. He was fully confident that renewable energy will take the place of fossil energy in the future, and he wanted to make the earth greener.
With products ranging from wind power converters and distributed power supply that provide development, construction and operation management for renewable energy projects, Sungrow is now identified as one of the most famous trademarks in China. It was listed as No 9 in Forbes' Chinese Public Companies with the Most Potential in 2012.
"We experienced a very hard time in the 1990s. Our sales figures were only a few hundred thousand yuan. The main product was small solar generators for nomads from rural areas such as Tibet, Qinghai and Xinjiang. Though the economic return was undesirable, we were consoled because the nomads didn't have to live in darkness in the evenings," Cao recalled.
Now Sungrow has developed into a leading international manufacturer of solar PV equipment. With more than 3,000 megawatts of installation capacity globally, of which 650 mW is installed in Europe, Australia and North America, Sungrow is Asia's largest PV inverter manufacturer.
PV inverters convert the direct current of a PV solar panel into an alternating current that can be fed into electrical grids.
The secret for Sungrow's achievement, according to Cao, is they do the right thing at the right time and have taken advantage of the opportunities that have come their way over the years.
"The experience of producing small solar generators for nomads made us familiar with local conditions, so our products could function well in cold environments. In 2002, we saw an opportunity in the country's Township Electrification Program and laid a foundation for later mass production," he said.
"2007 was a landmark for us. We settled in the Hefei State Hi-tech Industry Development Zone and attracted venture capital of $7 million. With this investment, we could recruit more talented people and do better R&D.
"To some extent, there is now no difference between our company and foreign companies. We make our own decisions in investment, staffing, management and strategy and take the risk of market."
Sungrow has been devoted to PV inverters for 15 years and large grid-connected inverters for the past decade. It now has more than one-third of the Chinese market, while the global installed capacity of its products has reached 2 gigawatts, or 2,000 mW.
"Our company's efforts in manufacturing power supply equipment for solar PV and wind power projects are genuinely helping to make the earth greener," Cao said.
In the future, he hopes that China - as the largest developing economy - will make more use of clean energy and contribute more toward environmental protection.
"Western countries have done well in using solar energy and that's beneficial for their future generations. In my view, the Chinese PV industry has contributed a lot, too. The cost-effective products we manufactured have helped to facilitate the electricity price adjustment in Western countries, so that people there have power at reasonable prices," Cao said.