The world’s largest private investor in clean energy, Zheng Jianming, who has amassed about $20 billion in Chinese solar manufacturing assets, is considering seeking U.S. investments to fund his expanding energy technology ambitions. Zheng is the chairman and founder of Asia Pacific Resources Development (APRD), which holds the world’s largest collection of solar-manufacturing businesses. During a recent meeting with potential investors at the Next Generation Solar PV Finance Conference in New York, he indicated that he may be ready to seek a public listing for APRD.
Hong Kong-based APRD is also investing in electric cars, geothermal systems, and even technologies that use seawater to store power. Zheng says that his aim is to supply clean energy for nearly every aspect of daily life – from the power source to air conditioning, lighting, and transport. His vision for APRD is not just limited to China, but aimed at going global. “If a city were to implement all of these technologies, it would basically be low-carbon,” he said in New York.
Zheng’s investor meeting in New York marks the first time that he has spoken publicly since he quietly began acquiring assets and stakes in Chinese solar companies in 2012. The 50-year old tycoon has consistently avoided public appearances and declined requests for interviews until he broke his silence in New York. He is the largest shareholder in Shunfeng Photovoltaic International Ltd., a panel maker and power-plant developer based in China and listed in Hong Kong.
Shunfeng has become the flagship company for his renewable-energy aspirations. Shunfeng has been on an acquisition spree, buying out large solar manufacturers that were strapped for cash. Zheng decided to invest into solar at a time when the industry was going through a slump due to a global glut of solar panels. One of his recent acquisitions, Suntech, which shipped about 800 MW of solar panels last year, is expected to triple the shipments this year to 2.4 gigawatts. Including other clean energy assets, Zheng expects to generate a total of 50 gigawatts of power.
Shunfeng has also made investments in energy-storage companies that are developing batteries for electric vehicles. It is financing Taiwan Carbon Nanotube Technology Corp., which employs nanotechnology in battery systems based on seawater, and Green Wheel Electric Vehicles, a Chinese supplier of electric cars and buses.Zheng said that his ventures have mirrored China’s development, and clean energy is what the country needs now.