Developing and financing clean energy from Amsterdam
With growing concern over climate change, it’s hard to imagine anything more important to the future of the planet than clean energy. Though it might seem like a non-starter for the business world, the need to reduce emissions and make things greener presents opportunities for companies like Hanergy.
Specialising in developing and financing clean energy sources such as water, wind and solar, Hanergy strives to make global energy provision cleaner and more sustainable – starting with China and the Netherlands. However, according to Li Ming, CEO of the company’s European division, “We’re no idealistic environmentalists, though.”
Motivated by social responsibility – and profit
Instead, she explains that, “We’re a profit and social responsibility-driven private company.” The combination is not impossible: it’s an astonishing growth market. If you want to play a leading role, you need to be present in all growth markets – and that includes Europe.
“We are active here in three ways,” says Li Ming. “We set up projects for sustainable energy, maintain them and, together with our subsidiaries, we look for investors for the projects. We develop financial products to raise the necessary capital, and we are continually engaged in the search for innovative solutions that reduce the cost price of renewables and raise their productivity. And it so happens that Amsterdam is the best location for working in this platform function in the European market.”
Attracting global capital from Amsterdam
In 1989, the Hanergy Holding Group was founded in Beijing by its chairman Li Hejun, who anticipated the growing interest in clean energy in China and elsewhere. At first, it concentrated on hydropower, but quickly moved into wind energy and experienced a breakthrough when it won a government contract to develop a wind park with 50 turbines in Jiangsu province.
Nowadays, Hanergy manages wind and water energy projects around the world, manufacturers solar panels and has an established international network of branches in Asia Pacific, the US and Europe. Furthermore, through its Amsterdam-based subsidiary, Europe China Power, Hanergy is specialising in setting up investment vehicles aimed at attracting capital from European and Chinese investors. One of the outcomes has been setting up the China Renewable Energy Fund, which offers investors the opportunity to participate in mostly Chinese sustainability projects.
Europe China Power is also behind China Carbon, which develops emissions-reduction projects in China, India and Vietnam. The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment has been working with this organisation to cancel out the environmental damage done by its own car fleet against the yields from Hanergy’s clean energy projects. And large energy producers such as Eneco and Nuon/Vattenfall are partnering with it to achieve a climate-neutral balance.
A spawning ground for innovation
It is no coincidence that Hanergy’s European head office is playing such an important role in the company’s success, according to Li Ming. “There has been a growing awareness in Europe for a while now that we need to accelerate the reduction of our dependence on fossil fuels and transfer to renewable energy sources. It’s partly for this reason that Europe is still the spawning ground for many innovations in the area of sustainability.”
Continuing, she says, “What’s more, [Amsterdam] is the perfect location for bringing together Chinese and European parties. The business and taxation climate is ideally suited to an enterprise like this. Investors enjoy special benefits here, Chinese and European parties like doing business under Dutch law and there is a strong local financial sector with a great deal of expertise and knowledge.”
The Dutch way of doing business
Hanergy’s original decision to locate the business in Amsterdam was a well-considered one. Decisive factors included the accessibility of the labour market, the presence of both international investors and the headquarters of large corporations and the traditionally good trading relations between China and the Netherlands.
“What clinched it was the mentality of the people here,” says Li Ming, adding “the way people do business here is familiar to the Chinese, and on top of that, the average Dutch person has an open mind and is very adept at dealing with other cultures. And it’s a breeding ground for innovative solutions in renewable energy.”
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