Sunday, April 22, 2007

Clean Power in China

China has a reputation as the world's fastest growing polluter, but that's not the whole story, according to an article in the New York Times.

Physicist Shi Zhengrong spent the 1990s in an Australian lab studying solar power, a field he picked by chance. He expected to devote his life to science.
Still, Shi saw signs of a blossoming industry as Germany, Japan and other countries invested in cleaner power. Excited by a trip home that showed him China's rapid development, he startled friends by abruptly moving his wife and two Australian-born sons to his homeland in 2001 to launch a solar equipment company.
Four years later, Shi's confidence paid off when his Suntech Power Holdings Ltd. went public on the
New York Stock Exchange and investors snapped up shares, turning him into a billionaire. Last year, Shi ranked No. 7 on the Forbes magazine list of China's richest tycoons, with a $1.4 billion fortune.
Today, he has traded his research smock for blue business suits, a CEO's 63rd-floor corner office and a role advising the Chinese government on renewable energy policy.
''We believed the share price would go up, but not so quickly,'' said Shi, a 43-year-old with a boyish face, chuckling at what he says was a rise marked by lucky breaks and timing. ''I never thought I would be a rich guy.''
Shi is the leader of an emerging group of Chinese entrepreneurs who are striking it rich by meeting fast-growing demand in China and abroad for cleaner power.
They are getting a boost from China's efforts to curb environmental damage after two decades of breakneck growth that have left it with some of the world's most badly polluted air and water. Chinese leaders also are promoting renewable energy in hopes of reducing mounting dependence on imported oil, which they see as a strategic weakness.

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