Chinese Companies Creating Better Green Products
Ten companies received Business Week’s (BW) Greener China Business Awards. Although still the world’s biggest user of coal powered energy, China is emerging as an "incubator for clean technology," as BW puts it. China is the largest producer of photovoltaic solar panels, and the second largest market for wind turbines. The Chinese government says it will increase its use of renewable energy to 23 percent by 2020, up from its current 16 percent, which is similar to European targets.
BW used a panel of experts and its reporters to select ten winners from over 60 candidates. Some of the companies were selected for cleaning up pollution they created, and others for creating environmentally-friendly products. It is the latter category that caught my attention, particularly two Chinese companies: Himin which makes solar water heaters, and Haier which makes environmentally friendly appliances.
Himin is the largest producer of rooftop piping systems that use the sun to heat water. The company was founded in 1995 by a former oil equipment engineer turned environmental activist, and has been characterized as one of China's "most avid evangelists for myriad uses of green technology."
The annual coverage of Himin’s solar water heaters is two million square meters, about twice the amount of similar systems in the U.S. According to BW, "The heaters have become the standard in new housing and many commercial buildings across China." The systems sell for as little as $220.
The solar energy utilized by the installation of Himin’s products equals 4,000 megawatts (MW), which has saved 200 million tons of coal from being burned. Himin helped set up a "solar valley" in Dezhou City, which is located in the Shandong Province in eastern China. Dezhou is in the process of installing solar heaters on one million roofs, and will host the 4th International Solar Cities Congress in September 2010. The city of 5.5 million residents also uses solar energy in many other ways, including street lighting.
Touting itself as the "only Chinese household electrical appliance enterprise winning the award," Haier is the world’s fourth largest manufacturer of household goods, and one of China's top IT companies. It makes refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines, televisions, mobile phones, computers, home theater systems, water heaters, and DVD players. The company owns 240 subsidiary companies, 30 overseas production factories and bases, 15 industrial complexes with over 50,000 employees globally, and eight design centers.
Based in Qingdao, Haier supplied over 600,000 environmentally friendly and energy efficient appliances for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, including 5,353 refrigerators that use carbon dioxide as a coolant, thousands of solar water heaters, and washing machines that use electrolyzed water to wash clothes instead of detergent. After the Olympics, the company pledged to turn 95 percent of its products "green" by 2010.
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