Himin Solar to expand environment-friendly business

Posted on May 14, 2011. Filed under: Energy |

The Star-

GREEN is the new black. Black is the fashion industry’s never fail colour but for every other industry, green-environment green, is the colour for them. Green has also become a big business for the case of Shandong, China-based Himin Solar Corp Ltd.

Chairman and founder Huang Ming, who speaks in Mandarin, says: “To ensure that our future generation can continue to enjoy blue skies and white clouds, new energy alternatives such as solar energy should be adopted globally. Imagine the clear skies and water, sunlight flooding back of our homes, no smoke billowing from wars … this is my dream.”

Himin Solar is currently China’s largest solar enterprise. It is the world’s largest solar water heater producer and sells 300 million sq m of solar water heaters annually. The amount equates to the total amount of solar water heaters produced in the European Union and twice that of the United States. Apart from solar water heaters, Himin Solar has also adopted more advanced technology to make solar thermal power generation, solar air-conditioning, solar swimming pools and energy efficient glass.

Huang Ming … ‘We need cooperation from everyone to go green.’

Huang recalls that just a decade ago, the concept of going green and using solar energy was an unfamiliar concept.

“Very few people used solar energy then. We conducted roadshows, awareness campaigns and engaged the media as well as carried out promotions to enhance solar energy awareness in the country,” he says.

Such campaigns have been fruitful evidently. Today China is the world’s largest producer and user of solar collectors with an output of 1.45 million sq m.

Huang says that apart from residential usage in its initial stages, solar energy usage has expanded to hotels, schools, halls and shopping malls.

He considers Malaysia to be at the point where China was years ago. He says more education will be needed to inform the public of the benefits of using solar energy. “It is not just saving money. We are also doing our part for the environment by using solar energy and it is also an investment.”

However, he recognises that Malaysia is “lacking a starting point” at the moment but believes this will happen eventually. Malaysia has yet to see the extensive usage of solar water heaters or solar panel products like in China. However, the passing of the Renewable Energy Act 2011 recently is without a doubt a milestone for renewable energy.

Huang says tackling the environment is not just the responsibility of the specific country or government but everyone’s.

“Solar power is not just a business. It’s half business, half environment and community service. We need cooperation from everyone to go green,” he says.

Huang, who is also known as the “Solar King” in his home country, is unperturbed with competition. Himin Solar is currently the market leader with some 76% market share in domestic solar water heaters.

“It is a very large market. It is still booming. Every new building will present an opportunity as well as a lifestyle change,” he says.

But isn’t it expensive? Huang replies: “That’s totally wrong!”

He explains that the cost of a solar heater is merely one-fourth that of a conventional water heater and consumers would likely get their return on investment in two to three years.

“End users can save up to 50% of their electricity bills compared with electric water heaters. Solar panels, however, require a long time (from eight to 10 years) to recoup one’s investments.

Huang has also developed China Solar Valley in Dezhou city, Shandong. The valley, which spans over 330ha, boasts of a wide range of solar technologies such as water heating, air conditioning and solar-equipped buildings.

He hopes to emulate the success of the Solar Valley in other parts of China. More than 100 cities around the world have also expressed interest in the Solar Valley.

Last year, Himin Solar constructed Asia’s first megawatt solar thermal power plant in Beijing and it is currently building the world’slargest Fresnel solar thermal power plant in Dezhou city in Shandong.

In 2008, Himin’s strong revenues prompted Goldman Sachs and CDH Investment to invest US$100mil in the company.

On Thursday, Himin Solar signed an agreement with Shah Alam-based TS Solar Energy Sdn Bhd for the latter to distribute its products and solutions.

TS Solar managing director Sam Oh says that under the agreement, TS Solar would offer Himin’s clean energy technologies for solar water heaters, building integrated photovoltaic, solar thermal power generation, solar lightning and energy-saving glass to the building and construction sector.

“TS Solar’s entry into the renewable energy sector is timely as our Government is encouraging the adoption of renewable energy sources including solar power as the way forward to help to reduce the country’s dependence on existing non-renewable energy source,” Oh says.

He says he was initially worried that the Malaysian solar energy market is too small, but changed his mind after meeting Himin Solar and realised that the market is huge.

However, there’s no market data on the adoption of solar water heaters in the country yet as it is still relatively new.

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