Expert urges more Chinese-Israeli cleantech work

China-based solar panel supplier’s technology chief in Israel to explore innovations.

July 5, 2012 03:57
3 minute read.
Solar panels

Solar panels 370. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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Israel and China are not yet maximizing their huge potential for collaborations in solar energy development and other cleantech innovations, according to experts.

“I know there’s a lot of exchange between Chinese and Israeli companies,” Holly Wu, vice president for marketing at China-based Suntech Power – the world’s, and Israel’s, largest supplier of photovoltaic solar panels – told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. “I don’t see any popular Israeli technologies successful in China.”

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Wu was speaking following a short afternoon panel moderated by Tal Reshef of the Asia-Israel Business Forum, at the 16th annual International Cleantech Exhibition. Wu and her fellow panelists stressed the need for more cooperation between the two countries in developing and manufacturing solar and other green technology.

“Israel has been the fastest country in this region to adopt solar energy [for] many reasons, but one is that the sun is so generous here. It is really a pity not to harness this solar energy resource,” she said during the panel discussion.

“Israel itself may have its limits, but the Israeli people are not just active in Israel – they are really brave and entrepreneurial and act in all parts of the world.”

In the hope that this activity will spread more to China, Wu said, Suntech’s chief technology officer, Dr. Stuart Wenham, is in Israel for a series of government, corporate and scientific meetings.

“We know that Israeli work is renowned for its advanced technology – part of our visit is to explore Israeli technology,” Wenham told the Post Wednesday. “Suntech is always looking for technological innovations that can boost panel efficiency. We’ve met with several government agencies as well, to emphasize photovoltaic technology’s strength in desert climates.”

By bringing Wenham to Israel, the large Chinese solar firm could take “the next step” toward bringing Israeli innovation to China and “widen [its] dialogue with local talents,” Wu explained.

“We want to see what kind of technology we can utilize, any technology that can help to increase cell reliability and efficiency will help reduce costs of generation,” she added. “It’s our goal to make solar affordable [and] economical as soon as possible, to be more competitive with conventional energy type.”

Israel and China are now celebrating 20 years of diplomatic relations, yet the largescale implementation of Israeli technology has not yet occurred in China, stressed Roy Lou of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.

Noting that he would love to share his experience with Israeli scientists interested in doing business in China, he said that his “gut feeling” after meeting many Israeli innovators was that they needed to be more patient, and enter China with “an open mind.”

One of the best ways for innovation to expand its visibility and enter a larger market is “to scale up faster,” according to Alfred Kwok, founder of the Center for Intelligent Information Processing Systems in China and principal intellectual property adviser at the S.T.A.R.S. Foundation, which works on bringing sustainable technology talent to Hong Kong.

In order to scale up faster in the Chinese market, Israelis need to learn “how to leverage the Hong Kong rule of law and British system into China,” he explained during the panel dialogue.

Due to its “copycat” atmosphere, those entering China must understand who their partner will be in order to eliminate the fear of intellectual property infringements, he said during an earlier conference that day about solving global water issues. He explained that one way to overcome data security and piracy problems was by leveraging Hong Kong and basing operations there.

“Only in China do you have one country with two systems,” he said. “Hong Kong is still operating in the British system.”

One new project that Kwok particularly recommended joining was Nansha Demonstration Zone, a southern port district in the Ghuangzhou province in the center of the Pearl River Delta, adjacent to Hong Kong and Macau. With a population of 40 million, the region is “very ideal for a test market” and aims to become a Silicon Valley type of area for game-changing innovations, he explained.

The roughly 600-hectare site will be divided into three zones – a data zone with low censorship, an eco-tech zone for environmental innovation and a new energies section for renewable exploration – all grounded in intellectual property protection.

An additional 200-hectare property on site will serve as a model “smart” community, he said.

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