Behind China’s Green Wall: Special Report

Lured by a potentially huge green technology market, Canadian and other foreign companies are struggling to navigate China’s risky business environment. From Geoff Dembicki at The Tyee:

Westport appears to be living the cleantech dream: sell big to Chinese markets, and help save the planet. Global economic power is shifting to the East. China is in the midst of a green revolution. Its market for environmental protection and energy savings technology will be worth US$473 billion by 2015, a China Merchants Securities report predicts. The Communist government sees the fight against climate change not as a burden on China’s growth, but as the chance to transition to a high-tech economy. “By virtually every metric that matters, China is the place to be doing business in cleantech these days,” said Dallas Kachan, managing partner of Kachan & Co., an international cleantech consultancy.

Yet very few companies from Canada’s $10.6-billion cleantech sector have followed Westport’s lead. Many see a nightmare instead of a dream, where Chinese partners entice them overseas, steal their technology, and drive them nearly bankrupt. […]

[…] One horror story has gotten a lot of attention in cleantech circles. In March 2011, China’s Sinovel, the world’s second largest maker of wind turbines, abruptly cancelled a shipment of operating software from America’s AMSC, a high-tech firm specializing in clean energy solutions. “We first thought that [the cancellation] was an inventory issue, and we were understanding,” the firm’s Jason Fredette told one reporter. But in China not long after, an AMSC employee discovered a Sinovel wind turbine running on expired AMSC software. The company got suspicious.

The article is the first in a series set to run throughout the week. See more on green technology via CDT.