WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Chinese wind and solar companies told a renewable energy conference on Thursday they were looking abroad for burgeoning markets in renewable energy.
Chinese renewable energy companies have been among the fastest growing in the world as subsidies in their home market, Europe and the United States and generous loans from Beijing have spurred a boom in manufacturing of the clean power systems.
Still, as countries such as Germany pare back incentives and the United States struggles with high unemployment figures, some companies and politicians in those countries are calling for more restrictions to protect their domestic industries.
Typically, China has trailed European and U.S. companies in entering nascent industries, but that has changed with the growing solar sector, said Hunter Jiang, president of GCL Solar Energy. "Today we are the leader," he said.
Jiang estimated that Chinese solar producers held a little less than half the global production capacity, but he told the RETECH renewable energy conference that figure was likely to rise to between 60 to 70 percent.
GCL is one of the largest makers of polysilicon, the material that is used in majority of solar panels to turn sunlight into electricity. It produces about 18,000 metric tons of the material, and that will grow to 21,000 metric tons this year. Its silicon wafer production capacity will reach 2 gigawatts.
"We are looking for a lot of products to go to Canada, the United States and Europe," he told the conference.
China Guangdong Nuclear Wind Power Co, which owns nuclear power plants and wind farms in China, hopes to build 3,000 megawatts of wind power in North America, Australia and Europe by 2020.
"We believe the United States is a very attractive market for renewable energy and are actively exploring opportunities in working with U.S. partners," Chairman Chen Sui said.
Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Company, which has grown into one of the largest wind turbine makers in the world, has built a 4.5 megawatt pilot project in the U.S. state of Minnesota to test its turbines in cold weather.
It expects to open an office in Chicago as it grows, Li Chunhua, the company's director of international business said.
"We have plans to build a local manufacturing plant in the U.S.," he said.
Editing by Derek Caney