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CTG grabs larger share of world's clean energy market

By ZHENG XIN | China Daily | Updated: 2022-04-18 09:14

Archived photo shows the second and third wind farms developed and constructed by China Three Gorges Corp in Pakistan's Sindh province. The company has been stepping up its clean energy portfolio abroad, engaging in more wind and solar projects. [Photo/Xinhua]

Group expands at a time when renewables are in demand due to neutrality pledge

Back in 2008, the Three Gorges Dam was completed and became the world's biggest hydroelectric power project. This, however, is not the ultimate goal of its builder and operator, China Three Gorges Corp, which has since then expanded abroad, with the ambition to become one of the world's leading energy groups.

China Three Gorges Corp has been stepping up its clean energy portfolio abroad, engaging in more wind and solar projects, especially those in developed countries. It is expanding at a boom time for renewables globally as new investments into these technologies now outweigh those going into traditional sources.

The European subsidiary of the company, for example, currently has a total installed capacity of almost 7 gigawatts since it was launched in 2011, all of which are new energy assets that are scattered mainly in Portugal, Spain, Germany, Greece, and the United Kingdom.

CTG Europe's clean energy in the European market, mostly wind and solar, has been advancing steadily with clean energy power generation rising to 3 terawatt-hours last year, up 133.7 percent, said Wu Shengliang, board chairman of China Three Gorges International Ltd (CTGI), a subsidiary of CTG for international clean energy investment.

As of the end of 2021, while focusing on key markets in Brazil, Pakistan and Europe, CTGI's investment projects have extended to 20 countries, with a total investment of over $13 billion. The overseas installed capacity has exceeded 16.3 GW, Wu said.

The company will further explore new areas of clean energy, including hydrogen and energy storage, in addition to wind and solar power, in the year to come to continuously contribute to carbon peak and carbon neutrality goals in Europe, he said.

CTG Brazil, for example, has recently invested in a local electric mobility project, a network of 18 charging stations on a 1,300-kilometer route between the states of Sao Paulo and Mato Grosso do Sul, which is expected to make important contributions to the electromobility segment in Brazil.

The comment came after the company's offshore wind farm in Germany, the 80-turbine Meerwind plant off the German coast in the North Sea, hit a record high in a single month of power output of 160 gigawatt-hours in February. Since it was acquired by CTG in 2016, the offshore wind farm has generated more than 6.97 TWh and is capable of generating enough electricity to meet the annual power needs of about 360,000 households, said CTGI.

Committed to building a world-class clean energy group and playing a leading role in promoting the industrial upgrading of clean energy, CTG has become the largest clean energy group in China and the largest hydropower enterprise in the world.

As of the end of last year, total installed capacity of the renewable energy sector has reached 104 GW, and the total annual renewable energy power generation reached 340 TWh.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has brought the company both challenges and opportunities for its overseas business.

"With the energy shortage in Europe, European governments are attaching more attention to the investment in and the continuous development of clean energy, which has brought us numerous chances," Wu said.

"Meanwhile, governments from across the globe also need to attract more investment to boost economic growth, and investment in the new energy sector is one of the most important drivers of economic growth," he said.

Wang Ziyue, an analyst at the research firm BloombergNEF, said China has been witnessing a massive increase in solar and wind capacity, which has provided domestic energy players with expertise for developing overseas projects.

"The cost-competitiveness of China's renewable energy supply chain can provide additional value to Chinese developers when developing overseas projects," Wang said.

Mature European renewable energy markets that offer clear routes to market for projects are expected to attract more and more interest from global developers and investors, he added.

"While a surge in domestic renewable energy demand driven by the carbon neutrality pledge could reduce Chinese developers' reliance on overseas markets, investing and operating wind and solar assets in mature markets can bring valuable power market experience and know-how to them as China's power market is set to further liberalize in the future," he said.

Joseph Jacobelli, an energy analyst and managing partner of Asia Clean Tech Energy Investments, said China's energy producers can grab a larger share of the global clean energy market, mainly thanks to the huge amount of construction and operational experience accumulated in the past few years.

"The massive amount of solar and wind capacity China commissioned in the past few years has given the nation's leading developers an unparalleled level of expertise," he said.

"Timing-wise though, it may not be in the next three or four years as they are highly occupied and preoccupied with the domestic market which is growing rapidly and massively."

According to Wu, CTGI will continue seeking cooperation with global energy players to jointly develop a third-party market, based on its successful cooperation with EDP, a large Portuguese energy group.

The two sides have made significant progress in third-party markets since a strategic partnership was established in 2011, including the 950-megawatt Moray offshore wind project in the UK.

They have agreed to update the terms of the strategic partnership in December, considering the increasingly global positioning of both companies, eyeing more exploration of third-party markets around the world.

In addition to the European company, the Brazilian market is also a priority in the corporation's international growth strategy. It has been investing in clean energy in Brazil since 2013. In 2016, it acquired the Brazilian assets of Duke Energy Corp, which included about 10 hydroelectric plants whose enterprise value reached $1.2 billion.

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