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This is a discussion on News on China's scientific and technological development. within the Members' Club Room forums, part of the China Defense & Military category; Coal-rich city aims to become sunshine state The city of Datong, famous for its rich coal resources in Shanxi province, ...
Coal-rich city aims to become sunshine state
The city of Datong, famous for its rich coal resources in Shanxi province, is being transformed into a new center for solar energy.
"During the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) period, we have 432 projects with a total investment of 536.4 billion yuan ($84.8 billion) to help the city's transformation from a high-carbon city into a low-carbon one," said Geng Yanbo, mayor of the city.
He said the city's target is to raise the proportion of clean energy produced to 25 percent by the end of 2015.
Construction of a polysilicon factory with an annual production capacity of 25,000 tons will start next month, said Geng. Polysilicon is the main material used in solar panels.
Golden Concord Holdings, one of the world's largest polysilicon manufacturers, plans to invest 14.68 billion yuan on five solar energy projects, including a polysilicon factory and a solar power station, in the southeast of Datong.
Datong has a huge reserve of coal. The total coal output in 2011 was 103.48 million tons, about one-eighth of the total amount of Shanxi.
However, it was other geographical advantages that made Datong attractive to the solar power industry.
The city is located on the northeast side of the Loess Plateau at an altitude of 1,000 to 1,500 meters and enjoys on average 2,800 hours of sunshine a year. Datong is classified as a rich area of solar resources by the wind and solar energy resources assessment center of the China Meteorological Administration.
Geng said Datong's solar resources could potentially provide 10 gigawatts of solar power. Construction on the first photovoltaic solar power station, with a 20-megawatt capacity, began late last year.
Meanwhile, Golden Concord plans to build a PV solar power station of 500 mW, and another of 300 mW together with Foxconn Technology Group, one of the world's biggest electronics manufacturers.
To encourage the companies to develop new energy in Datong, the city government has agreed to supply Golden Concord with 500 million tons of coal to ensure power supply for polysilicon production, said Geng.
"The cost of polysilicon will be even lower in Datong than in Jiangsu province, the largest production base of polysilicon in China, if coal resources are provided for power supply."
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Pterosaur fossil unearthed in China
Pterosaurs in ancient times in this restoration photo
The specimen of a pterosaur skull fossile
A rare pterosaur skull fossil has been discovered in Northeast China, according to a Friday press release from the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS).
A photo of the fossil specimen attached to the release shows that the creature had an upward-pointing frontal crest and large rostral teeth, indicating that it is closely related to Ludodactylus, another rare lizard hailing from the Araripe Basin in northeast Brazil, according to Dr Wang Xiaolin, a scientist leading a joint Chinese-Brazilian research team that discovered the fossil.
The team also discovered several coprolites containing fish bone fragments next to the skull, indicating that the creature mainly ate fish, the release said.
The reptile has been named Guidraco venator, a combination of Chinese and Latin that means "ghost hunter."
The specimen was unearthed from the Early Cretaceous Jiufotang Formation in Northeast China's Liaoning province, a region famous for the pterosaur fossils uncovered there.
One possible explanation for the creature's resemblance to the Brazilian Ludodactylus states that several early Cretaceous pterosaur species may have originated in Asia and later migrated to other regions, such as Brazil.
"The occurrence of Guidraco is consistent with that hypothesis," said the study's coauthor Alexander Kellner from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ).
Dr Wang said the pterosaurs may have been forced to leave the Jiufotang Formation due to rising competition with birds, which also prey on fish.
A report on the discovery will be published in the April issue of Naturwissenschaften, a leading academic journal for the natural sciences.
Nokia dialing into success from China
Nokia has established a complete industry chain for mobile phones in Yizhuang
Lines and lines of shuttle buses are parked in front of the Beijing Economic and Technological Development Area in the Yizhuang region of southeast Beijing, which also contains the sprawling China campus of the Finnish telecommunications company Nokia Corp.
The 750,000-square-meter industrial center is a hub for telecom terminal manufacturing, employing more than 30,000 people. Most of them are either Nokia employees or work for companies that do large amounts of business with the Finnish company.
"You cannot imagine how bad the situation was in Yizhuang about 10 years ago," said Peng Jing, general manger of Nokia Telecommunications Ltd, a Nokia subsidiary.
Nokia was the first multinational company to set up in the Beijing Economic and Technological Development Area, says Peng, who joined the company in 1996.
"Ten years ago, before we broke ground, the area was a fish pond and had very few visitors," Peng said.
He said he cannot forget that first day, when mud, the product of rainy weather, was regularly splashed onto his pants.
Much has changed since then, Peng said.
Yizhuang now plays an important role in Nokia's research and development and is one of the few centers that has more than 1,000 employees working on those tasks. Last April, Nokia decided to make the Yizhuang campus its global innovation hub.
The move to Beijing came at a time when the Finnish company was floundering and losing considerable market share to its competition. To salvage its position, the company teamed up with Microsoft Corp in February 2011 to develop Nokia smartphones that could operate on the Windows Phone platform. Yizhuang has been chosen as one of four principal global hubs where innovations will be made to Nokia Windows Phone handsets.
"In addition to the development of Windows Phone products, the Yizhuang center will also continue to do R&D work on other Nokia phones," said Flann Gao, Nokia China communication manager.
He said the center is the only one of Nokia's operations that has a combined function.
Apart from research and development, Nokia has also worked to build up a complete industry chain for mobile phones in Yizhuang. The operations conducted at the technological development area range from design to production to shipping and warehousing.
To meet market demands, Nokia will also continue to make adjustments to its global handset business. But much of its plan to become a strong smartphone company will have to do with the center in the technological development area, says Markus Alitalo, who heads the Windows Phone research and development department in Beijing.
One of the reasons Nokia seems to be eager to put most of its eggs into the China basket could also be its plan to make further inroads into what is essentially the biggest mobile market in the world. By the end of February, China had nearly 1 billion mobile phone users, of which 143.6 million were 3G service subscribers or smartphone users.
According to a report issued by the Beijing-based research firm Analysis International, China is expected to have more than 300 million 3G users by the end of 2012. Many believe the expected increase in 3G users will result in huge opportunities for handset makers such as Nokia, experts said.
"Since most of our component suppliers are next door, the Yizhuang base is a convenient location for us to collect parts, assemble handsets and deliver them to Chinese customers as soon as possible," Alitalo said.
China is the biggest single market for Nokia, giving the company more than 5 billion euros ($6.6 billion) in net sales in 2011, according to its annual report.
The huge talent pool in Beijing is another reason for Nokia to strive harder in technological development. "Beijing has the most elite universities across China and we are excited to have them working in Nokia," Alitalo said.
"Though we are based in Beijing, we develop Nokia Windows Phones for customers around the world," Alitalo added.
Edward Li, a product manager at Nokia's Windows Phone unit, says certain ideas that were originated from China have been spread with considerable success to the global market.
He noted that Chinese customers prefer having mobile devices with bigger screens, whereas those in the US and Europe tend to like smaller screens.
"When Nokia started making bigger-size screen phones globally, we found that caught on in other markets also," Li said.
"The Chinese market has more or less changed the way Nokia does its business. Earlier it was the European or North American markets that set the trend for the entire mobile industry. But now, China is slowly exerting a bigger influence on the industry."
The Lumia 800 is the latest Nokia Windows phone developed in Beijing. The handset, marking Nokia's first collaboration with Microsoft and the Windows Phone 7 operating system, sold about 1 million units in the final quarter of 2011. Analysts expect Nokia to ship more than 37 million Windows Phone handsets this year and there is a good chance that most of them will have a connection to Yizhuang.
China mine hunt turns to Africa, S.America, Asia
Chinese firms are on the prowl for mining investments in Africa, South America and central Asia as they look to feed ever expanding domestic demand for key commodities, but are switching away from Australia and Canada, which are getting too expensive.
Iron ore and copper have been the hot targets over the past few years, but more recently, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corp has gone after uranium in Africa, and firms are now seeking gold, nickel, tin and coking coal, too.
They used to prefer Australia and Canada for their political stability, but state-owned and private Chinese investors say assets in those countries are becoming too expensive.
"Those traditional markets that are developed, while being more stable - the likes of Australia and Canada - the competition to gain good resources is actually very, very intense," said Leong Eng Kiat, Managing Director of CCB International Capital.
"Because of that, the prices tend to be bid up. So Chinese investors are looking outside of these countries and going into emerging markets - the likes of Africa, Latin America, central Asia."
Long project approval processes have also put off some Chinese investors, spurring the search for assets in emerging markets instead.
"It's easier to get approvals in African countries. There are no big headaches, like with Canada and Australia," Liliang Teng, chief marketing officer at the China-Africa Development Fund, told Reuters.
The fund has invested $1 billion in a range of projects, including iron ore, in Africa and has a further $4 billion to invest.
All the commodities being targeted are needed to satisfy an increasingly affluent population that is buying more cars, televisions, fridges, and apartments, using more and more electricity, and buying more jewelry.
Gold is in demand not just for jewelry but also as a hedge against inflation, making the country a huge consumer of gold.
"So the private sector, state-owned enterprises, even companies like us, try to look for gold resources, because the demand is strong, while supply in China is getting more and more difficult," said CITIC Dameng Holdings Chief Executive Charlie Tian told a conference in Hong Kong.
Uranium is needed to fuel 26 nuclear plants under construction in China, with more on the way, but only three or four companies are mandated to buy uranium assets.
"It's too politically sensitive," Tian said.
China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corp (CGNPC) is about to snare control of Namibia's Husab uranium project, potentially the world's second-largest uranium mine, with the takeover of Kalahari Minerals (KAH.L) and Extract Resources (EXT.AX) for about $2.3 billion.
Private investors who bought stakes in junior miners in places like Canada are now keen to reap profits by selling to state-owned companies, a senior executive at a Canadian-listed Chinese company said, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue.
He said large, state-owned Chinese companies were interested in lead, zinc and iron ore projects.
The chase for iron ore continues, despite setbacks on multibillion dollar iron ore investments in Australia, such as Sinosteel's Midwest project and CITIC Pacific's Sino Iron project in Western Australia, hit by slow government approvals, soaring construction costs and lack of rail and port space.
Chinese firms held off on deals in the second half of last year as they anticipated iron ore prices would come off and weaken valuations on potential targets, advisers say, but interest is starting to perk up again.
One adviser to Chinese companies said investors were looking more closely at political risk and ensuring projects make returns, and are not just focusing on the quality of assets.
"Chinese investors are being smart," Jamon Alexander Rahn, vice president of Emerging Asia Capital, told Reuters on the sidelines of the conference.
In all cases the key criteria are whether projects have enough scale, whether the products can be shipped back to China to meet demand and at a reasonable cost, said Leong.
"It's always about managing the resource security of China," he said.
China's Huawei moves out of the shadows to join technology race
The security guard's mirrored sunglasses reflect Barcelona's pale winter sunshine. His job is to keep the crowds attending the sprawling trade fair at bay. Behind him, a pavilion the size of a bus garage houses the latest technology produced by China's Huawei. Those without a meeting to attend are told they cannot enter, and cameras are banned inside.
Huawei is China's biggest exporter, and its equipment helps run the BT broadband network, but the brand is unknown to most UK households. Regarded as a secretive organisation even within the people's republic, Huawei is headed by a former Red Army engineer, Ren Zhengfei.
Unlike other Chinese IT firms, such as the PC maker Lenovo and telecoms group ZTE, Huawei is not listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange. A private company owned entirely by its founders and employees, the names of its board members were only published for the first time last year.
But it is also a flagbearer for China's "going out" policy of encouraging the first generation of corporations created by economic liberalisation in the 1980s to compete on the world stage. Entrepreneurial and unbureaucratic, it has prospered without having the state as a shareholder.
It sells everything from mobile mast radios to software, data-centres and laptop dongles. Founded in 1987, Huawei only began exporting in earnest in 2000, but already over 65% of its revenues are from abroad. Last year, they totalled 185.2bn yuan (£18.51bn), just half a billion pounds less than the world's largest telecoms equipment group, Ericsson.
Now Huawei is preparing to step out of the shadows. While its governance remains veiled, the company is pushing its brand to the fore. It wants to place its products in the hands of millions of western consumers, and become the fourth largest manufacturer of smartphones by the end of this year.
At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month, Huawei's devices chairman Richard Yu said that by the end of 2012 he hoped to have sold 60m smartphones, up from 17m last year.
Hitting that target would vault the firm into the big league, behind Apple, Samsung and Nokia, and ahead of BlackBerry maker RIM and Taiwan's HTC. To succeed, it will have to redefine what "Made in China" stands for.
While Huawei's hometown of Shenzhen is the electronics workshop of the world, churning out iPhones for Apple and PCs for Dell, its produce usually bears the stamp of a foreign company. Aside from PC maker Lenovo, it is hard to name a Chinese brand known to European and American shoppers.
"Consumer perception is that a Chinese product is cheap and looks cheap because the quality is no good," says Francisco Jeronimo, an analyst at research firm IDC. "Huawei needs to change that perception."
Jeronimo believes Huawei products have the quality to compete, but says it will need to raise its public profile. The charge will be led from the UK, where no expense has been spared in recruiting British executives and an advisory board to help find friends in high places.
Former Sunday Telegraph editor Patience Wheatcroft is an adviser, as is Amazon's ex-UK boss Brian McBride, and Sir Andrew Cahn, once chief of staff for Neil Kinnock and recently chief executive of UK Trade & Investment, the government trade promotion body. To promote the smartphones, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, ad agency to Google and BA, will create a global campaign from London.
"It's imperative we are seen as a global brand and not a Chinese brand," says Mark Mitchinson, a Samsung veteran running Huawei's UK devices arm.
His newest stock are phones and tablet computers running Google's Android interface, which house computer chips that have four rather than the now usual two processors, allowing them to handle multiple instructions at the same time. They are fast, particularly when it comes to downloading video.
While most phone makers prefer to leave chips to specialists like Intel, Huawei, whose name stands for "China can" and "splendid act", designed its quad core processors in house and has become known in recent years for innovating. Some 62,000 of its 140,000 staff work in research and development, and there are 23 R&D centres around the world.
Without a recognised brand, Huawei's phones will sell on price. Its mission will be to mop up those mobile subscribers who don't yet own a smartphone, rather than trying to poach Apple's customers.With BlackBerry caught napping and now adjusting to a new chief executive, and Nokia yet to prove its adoption of Microsoft's Windows Phone interface can turn business around, Huawei is seizing a window of its own.
"There are certain manufacturers that have dropped the ball over recent years and others can pick up that ball and run with it," says Mitchinson.
Samsung has shown it can be done. The Korean company moved from fifth to second spot globally in smartphone sales last year, the only one in the top five to grow in the face of the unstoppable iPhone.
There are those who wonder why Huawei is so keen to risk its hard-earned yuans by chasing capricious mobile phone customers. The answer is that this is a high-growth market. Even in an early adopter nation like the UK, only half of us have a smartphone. And the handset market has the attraction of being a less politically sensitive one than infrastructure.
Huawei is already big in Europe, having last year won a breakthrough contract to overhaul the network of the UK's largest operator, Everything Everywhere. But an offer to donate £50m of equipment to bring a mobile signal into the London Underground in time for the Olympics was never taken up.
MP Patrick Mercer described the possibility of detonating bombs with phones on trains as "the answer to terrorists' prayers". A spokesman for Huawei says the deal fell apart not because of security fears, but because commercial agreement could not be reached between all the various players involved.
The culture within Huawei is often described as militaristic. Information is shared on a need-to know basis, with one employee complaining anonymously on recruitment website Glassdoor: "Don't expect to get the information or documentation to be able to carry out the job you are employed to do." Others who have worked there, like former UK mobile chief Jeremy Sheehan, says this comes from a desire to "protect client confidentiality".
Bengt Nordström, a strategic adviser to European mobile networks, says Huawei has succeeded because of its ability to learn fast. While Chinese employees even in the UK still put their heads down on their desk for a nap after lunch, managers study for MBAs, and are offered crash courses in Western culture. "Ten years ago they were really only selling on low prices," says Nordström. "It was hard to find people that could speak English well enough to conduct a business discussion. But for every quotation they produced, their quality increased. Customer relations is an area where Ericsson is stronger than any other vendor but Huawei have learnt that game."
Backed by a $30bn credit line from the China Development Bank, the pattern of Huawei's international expansion has followed its philosophy, borrowed from Chairman Mao, of encircling the cities by winning the countryside.
Beginning in Africa and Russia, it has moved successfully west. Only America has blocked its advance. Efforts to expand have been repeatedly neutralised by Washington. Offers to acquire Motorola's wireless division and a broadband software group were quashed after the sellers were informed that regulatory approval would not be forthcoming. A contract to modernise mobile operator Sprint Nextel's network was kyboshed, and the US commerce department last autumn barred Huawei from an emergency services contract. A British executive whose company buys from Huawei says US politicians are using espionage as a scare tactic to protect domestic businesses from foreign competitors.
"You've got to remember the most protectionist country of the developed world is America. Rupert Murdoch had to become American to buy Fox. What the Americans are really trying to do is stop Huawei getting the business they know they could get if they opened up their equipment market to them."
Huawei's stated ambition is to become as big as Cisco or IBM, with annual revenues of $100bn in 10 years. Nordström says this is unlikely without conquering America: "This is an industry where you need to be truly global to have a future."
Observers say the most serious threat to Huawei's ambitions comes from within. As Ren approaches his 68th birthday in October, the company he founded is facing a succession crisis.
In her letter published in last year's annual report, Huawei's charismatic chairwoman, Sun Yafang, thanked the staff for re-electing her, saying: "I am sincerely grateful to our employees' trust and confidence in me." It was a short statement that masked an internal power struggle. While Ren, who does not give interviews, has been criticised in the Chinese press for a lack of transparency, Sun is increasingly being seen as Huawei's public face, a networker who was among corporate China's most senior representatives at Davos this year.
But in October 2010, a report in Meiri Jingi Xinwen (Daily Economic News) suggested Sun had been offered 1bn yuan to leave Huawei so that Ren could prepare the ground for the appointment to the 13-member board of his son, Meng Ping, who is customer relationship management director and is said to have spent time in the US. The company denies this. Whatever the truth, Sun survived in a post she has held since 1999 and Meng did not join the board.
But the Ren dynasty holds sway at Huawei; Ren's daughter Meng Wanzhou is chief financial officer. Meanwhile, Ren Shulu, the founder's younger brother, is a member of the five-strong supervisory board that oversees the directors. Both boards are elected every five years, by 51 staff representatives who are in turn elected by Huawei's 60,000 shareholding staff.
Gary Liu, a professor at the China Europe International Business School in Shanghai, says Ren's determination to find a successor from within his family stems from 2000 when his then second-in-command, Li Yinan, left to start a rival company, Harbour. Ren fought and eventually bought Harbour, but the experience, says Liu, destroyed his trust in non-family members.
Succession is not just an issue at Huawei. China's first generation of entrepreneurs at Lenovo and white goods maker Haier are also nearing retirement. "These companies' futures hinge on how effectively the incumbents manage leadership transitions. Indeed, the choices the founder CEOs make may well reshape their companies as well as the Chinese economy," says Liu.
Ren has resisted a stock exchange listing, but ownership could help shed light on the business and build trust. Huawei may have to open its own doors before America decides to do the same.
China's Not-So-Super Computers
The supercomputer in this southern boomtown is named Nebulae for the interstellar clouds of gas that give birth to stars. The machine symbolizes China's soaring ambition to challenge the U.S. and other developed nations in technology, but also underscores the limitations of what China can achieve.
China's unexpected progress in developing supercomputers, the brains of modern science and an engine of economic development, has caused an outbreak of anxiety over the past two years in the U.S., which has long been the field's undisputed leader. China's advances in computing have been critical to its ability to build spacecraft and advanced warplanes and to its growing prowess in genetics. China overtook Japan in 2010 as the number two investor in research and development, according to Battelle Memorial Institute, a Columbus, Ohio, research outfit. Though China remains well behind the U.S. in R&D spending, it is gaining ground.
But a closer look at China's supercomputers reveals a program that is far less of a threat to U.S. technological dominance than commonly believed. Chinese researchers say decisions about how supercomputers are used are often made by local politicians more interested in local development projects than breakthrough technology.
China's bureaucrats meanwhile haven't figured out how to mount software development projects that come close to U.S. or European standards. Chinese scientists also lack the funding, and freedom, to explore technologies that haven't already been endorsed by the government, which can keep them well behind the cutting edge.
The result is that China's supercomputing projects aren't producing the kinds of breakthroughs that can create new industries. It is instead being deployed to help the country simply catch up with the U.S. and Europe, in areas ranging from health care to automotive design to aviation. That is important economically, but it is also a reminder that China remains a developing country whose main goal is to close the economic and technology gaps with richer nations.
"The strategy has been never to lead, but to follow" technologically, said Qian Depei, a Beihang University researcher, who has worked for decades on China's advanced computing programs. "That was the most economically efficient way to develop."
Richard Suttmeier,a University of Oregon expert on Chinese science policy, said China hasn't figured out "the right formula" to pioneer new technologies in part because researchers are rewarded according to the number of academic papers they publish rather than the quality and novelty of their work.
Supercomputers are largely seen in China as local economic-development tools. City governments play a much larger role in setting China's supercomputer research agenda than they do in the U.S. because Chinese cities finance a larger share of the projects.
Shenzhen, which paid three-quarters of the $1.3 billion cost of the Shenzhen supercomputer center, "doesn't care about climate change and astrophysics"—traditional supercomputer research projects—said Feng Shengzhong, deputy director of a Shenzhen research institute that develops applications for the Nebulae. "They care about local problems."
He is working on a plan to use the Nebulae to improve health care services in South China—a socially important goal but not one that makes use of the power of what is ranked as the world's fourth-fastest supercomputer.
China is now home to 74 of the world's 500 fastest supercomputers—which can make trillions of calculations every second—up from just 10 in 2007. Changes in the way the machines are designed have helped the country.
In the 1980s, when Cray Research CRAY +1.92% in Minneapolis was the world's supercomputer technology leader, the machines were powered by a few enormously powerful processors, whose design was difficult to match. Exports were tightly controlled. Starting in the 1990s, supercomputer researchers began to lash together tens of thousands of off-the-shelf microprocessors to work on a single job. China could buy those computer chips from Intel Corp., INTC -0.07% Advanced Micro Devices Inc. AMD +0.75% and other firms and make its own machines.
Analysts say that Chinese scientists have benefited from training at top computer centers in the U.S. and Europe and the availability of computer chips and other parts from abroad, as well as consistent Chinese government funding and support. The supercomputer effort isn't dogged by charges that the Chinese have ripped off foreign technology. Rather, Chinese scientists say U.S. restrictions on some high-technology exports have required them to redouble their domestic efforts.
Still, China remains largely dependent on U.S. made microprocessors—the brains of the computer—which puts it behind the leading edge. Beijing has developed one computer that uses locally designed microprocessors, but doesn't run commercially available software. Another microprocessor in development, the Loongson, would use existing software and could eventually become a competitor to Intel and others.
Some of China's supercomputers have been used to design wings for China's stealth fighter, now in test phase, and to design parts for China's first commercial jet. Beijing lags well behind the U.S. in both efforts.
In Shenzhen, the Nebulae, which is still being tested, is expected to improve storm warning systems and help genetics companies search for the causes of disease. But it is also scheduled to be used for far less demanding tasks, such as processing video animation.
In the U.S., said Steve Conway, a supercomputer analyst at market researcher IDC, in Framingham, Mass., cities and states chip in money for local supercomputer centers, but they generally have little say in setting the priorities for the machines. U.S. supercomputer centers nearly always focus on advanced scientific research, such as designing drugs tailored to individuals.
Research at the edge of technology is risky, but can have big payoffs and leave competitors like China well behind. "American alarmism isn't always well-founded," said Mr. Suttmeier, of the University of Oregon. "The critical point is keep devising strategies in the U.S. to stay way ahead of the game."
One of China's greatest weaknesses is in software development, a potentially crippling problem because the usefulness of the machines depends on the quality of the software applications. Less than 10% of supercomputing funding goes to developing such applications, said Chinese researchers who complain that political leaders press them to build headline-grabbing new machines rather than focus on whether they are used to their full capabilities.
In the U.S., which spends about six times as much on supercomputers as China, the software budget equals about 30% of hardware spending, and computer specialists say even that level isn't sufficient.
The battle for software dollars is so intense in China that researchers rarely work as a team on long-term software projects, Chinese scientists say.
To illustrate the uneven perception of China's supercomputer efforts, Mr. Qian, the veteran supercomputer researcher, holds his palms at hip level. "Generally, we're here," he said, "but everyone thinks we're higher," as he raises his palms to shoulder height.
Westinghouse Completes Fabrication Of Fuel Assemblies For Sanmen 1
Mar 21, 2012 Westinghouse Electric Company has announced that it has completed fabrication of all 157 fuel assemblies and related components needed to operate the first-ever AP1000 nuclear power plant, Sanmen Unit 1, in Zhejiang province, China.
Completion of fabrication is a major milestone for Westinghouse and its Columbia Fuel Fabrication Facility in Columbia, South Carolina, where the fuel assemblies were completed and delivered to the Sanmen Nuclear Power Company (also in Columbia) for later shipment to China. Sanmen Unit 1 is scheduled to begin generating electricity in 2013.
In commenting on the milestone, Ric Perez, President of Operations for Westinghouse, said: "This operational milestone, which closely follows final approval of the AP1000 design by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the granting of the Combined Construction and Operating License for the Vogtle site in Georgia, again shows that the global nuclear new build effort continues to gain momentum.
It also again illustrates that the Westinghouse business model is mutually beneficial, creating or sustaining jobs in locations in which we already have a presence while building infrastructure in the countries and regions where we are providing new plants."
Columbia Plant Manager David Precht said: "Up until now, the Columbia plant has been producing fuel primarily for the first generation of plants around the world,"
"But now we are introducing a new fleet of plants-AP1000 or 'Advanced Passive' plants-that will need fuel until late in the century. We look forward to also providing fuel for the AP1000 plants that will be built in the United States."
The AP1000 reactor, which received amended design certification from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in December 2011, was developed to further improve safety and reduce construction and operating costs. Westinghouse is pursuing production of AP1000 fuel across its global manufacturing facilities.
The "Advanced Passive" safety system is a central feature of the AP1000 design. Plant safety is achieved using basic physical processes rather than only powered safety systems. This approach means it can be safe without the extensive and complex emergency systems needed on other reactors.
The design uses natural cooling and gravity-driven systems to keep the reactor safe, even under the extreme conditions of a Fukushima-type event. The design also employs a more cost-efficient modular construction approach. The modules are built at remote factories and assembled together on site, reducing plant construction time. These concepts result in a simpler, more practical and safer design, which is attracting worldwide interest.
Sanmen 1 is the flagship AP1000 plant; seven more are already under construction: one more at Sanmen; two at Haiyang site in Shandong Province, China; two at Southern Nuclear's Vogtle site in Georgia; and two at the SCE and G V.C. Summer site in South Carolina. Additional AP1000 plants are anticipated over the next decade in the United States and around the world.
Westinghouse Electric Company, a group company of Toshiba Corporation (TKY:6502), is the world's pioneering nuclear energy company and is a leading supplier of nuclear plant products and technologies to utilities throughout the world.
Westinghouse supplied the world's first pressurized water reactor in 1957 in Shippingport, Pa. nowadays, Westinghouse technology is the basis for approximately one-half of the world's operating nuclear plants, including 60 percent of those in the United States
It's the Wall Street Journal. They've won awards on that kind of coverage on China. Even the New York Times is following their lead out of envy.
Huawei barred from Australia's NBN bid
Chinese telecommunication giant Huawei was reported on Saturday to have been banned from tendering for Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) contracts, with the office of Attorney-General Nicola Roxon issuing a statement saying the government needed to protect the integrity of Australia's information infrastructure.
The Australian Financial Review has quoted sources as saying that Huawei had been told last year not to bother tendering for any NBN related projects that aim to connect 93 percent of Australia's homes and businesses with optical fiber.
"As a strategic and significant government investment, we have a responsibility to do our utmost to protect its integrity and that of the information carried on it," the attorney-general's office wrote in a statement to ZDNet Australia...
US carbon tech firms flock to China for coal projects
China is the coal capital of the world. With few of its own oil and gas resources, the nation depends on its vast coal reserves to literally fuel growth. Expanding in recent years at a rate of one new coal-fired power plant a week on average, the country's coal capacity is expected to triple that of the United States by 2015.
China's dependence on the dirty, sooty mineral, in turn, is a shot in the arm for cleaner, low-carbon coal technologies. As the world's leading carbon emitter, China has targeted energy and environmental conservation as one of its key growth industries in the 12th Five-year Plan.
Such technologies include carbon capture and storage, so that carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants are separated out and buried deep underground.
All this is good news for American companies involved in these technologies.
"US companies whose technology has been languishing here (in the US) for decades are commercializing for the first time because of the speed and lower cost of doing business in China," says John Thompson, director of the Coal Transition Project at the Clean Air Task Force, a Boston-based non-profit that brokers partnerships between US and Chinese clean technology companies.
Since the US and China generate half of the world's coal-fired power emissions, the two can make a big impact on the reduction of global greenhouse gas by working together. "Cooperation based on trust between US and Chinese businesses on the ground is the only pathway to a grand deal on climate change," says S. Julio Friedmann, carbon management program leader at the US Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.
They couldn't be better suited for such cooperation given their complementary capabilities: While China focuses on technology to separate carbon emissions from coal exhaust, the US is an expert in technology to store that carbon underground.
Terry Cooke, a senior fellow at Penn's T.C. Chan Center for Building Simulation and Energy Studies, calls it "a win-win opportunity to create a 21st-century globalized, accelerated technology development loop where the US supplies what it does best, which is innovation, and the Chinese bring advantages of speed and scale of deployment."
Speed to market is the biggest attraction for Western companies flocking to China. "China can deploy technology roughly twice as fast" as the US, says Frank Alix, CEO of PowerSpan, a New Hampshire-based company working with state-owned China Huaneng Group on a new coal gasification solution.
"The US may have innovation and new ideas, but it takes five to 10 years to get to full commercialization with lots of cost in between. China can do it in a much shorter time and much cheaper," adds Ming Sung, chief representative of the Asia-Pacific region at the Clean Air Task Force in Shanghai.
Part of the speed comes from having access to state-backed capital in China. The cost of capital in the US - at roughly three to five times that in China- factors in longer lead times right from the start.
To justify a hefty US$1 billion investment in a new US coal plant, for example, preliminary engineering studies are lengthier and therefore more costly than those in China, comments Robert Rigdon, CEO of Texas-based Synthesis Energy Systems (SES). "In China, almost every project you enter gets built," he says. "In the US, it's almost the opposite."
Whether foreign or Chinese, one invaluable benefit gained from the on-the-ground experience in China is that companies are getting a better grip on management, forecasting and efficiency both in their plants and up and down supply chains.
"There are a massive number of players in the industry in China experimenting and improving themselves on a daily basis to create a level of know-how to accurately project cost and to let them figure how much steel and concrete to use," says Jason Crew, general manager of General Electric Gasification in Shanghai.
For all these reasons, Rigdon found China a hospitable market for technology developed in the 1970s by the Gas Technology Institute in Illinois. SES is the exclusive licensor of that coal gasification technology called U-GAS and saw big opportunities in China because of the country's "large amounts of coal converted to energy and chemicals," says Rigdon.
In 2007, SES launched a joint venture in Zaozhuang in Shandong Province with Shandong Hai Hua Coal & Chemical Co to convert low-quality coal into clean synthetic gas before it is deployed for industrial uses. The US firm is now engaged in a US$4 billion project in Henan Province, which will be completed this summer.
In a partnership with Yima Coal Industry Group, the project aims to convert low-quality coal into clean synthetic gas for conversion to methanol or glycol for industrial uses. Longer term, U-GAS can be used to extract CO2 from coal-generated power plants, which can be stored underground.
PowerSpan is also getting a lift from China. The small clean energy company developed an advanced solvent to remove CO2 from the exhaust of coal-fired power plants. The solvent binds with the CO2, which is then separated for capture and storage. With the help of China Huaneng Group, PowerSpan won a contract last year with Norway's Technology Qualification Program to build out a post-combustion capture system. Now, the two firms are exploring other projects together in China.
Meanwhile, US-educated Chinese scientists, who started low-carbon coal and related research projects in the US, are taking these ventures to China. Jane Chuan - a China-born scientist with a PhD in bioenergetics from State University of New York at Buffalo - and her husband-- a China-born scientist PhD in chemistry from Cal Tech - helped launch a Silicon Valley firm in 1996, applying a method developed for the biopharmaceuticals market to energy efficiency solutions. When the company's board grew too concerned about intellectual property (IP) theft to begin their operations into China, Chuan and Wang set up Accelergy, a company focused on accelerated energy technology, in Palo Alto in 2003. They subsequently moved to Shanghai, renaming their venture Yashen Technologies.
Closer to the market
In China, "energy and environmental protection will become huge issues," says Chuan. "We could have chosen to go to Russia, India, Cambodia or some other place where labor costs are even lower, like Vietnam, but here, we are closer to the market."
A top-quality labor pool in Shanghai helps Yashen build and operate high throughput systems. "To develop a new application or technology may take about 15 to 20 years in the US. With the high throughput platforms we build, we spend about five years."
Penn's Cooke notes that a key to making these US-China partnerships work is that "US companies have to be sure of their intellectual property protection and commercialization benefits." Yet as opposed to other clean tech industries in China, such as wind energy, low-carbon coal technology companies seem relatively relaxed about IP theft by Chinese customers and competitors. Some experts say one reason is that upholding the standard 20-year US patents is less of a concern in large-scale energy technologies, such as carbon capture, because plants operate on multi-decade timetables.
Unlike in, say, software, music or fashion, "there's less copying in this industry, because the projects are large," says Albert Lin, CEO of Calgary, Canada-based EmberClear Corp, which is the exclusive licensor of Huaneng's technology in North America and other regions." People are more worried whether you have the R&D efforts to sustain and improve plants that will run for 40 years," he says.
What's more, large Chinese companies are gaining ground by exporting some of their technologies to other emerging countries. Huaneng, for instance, is starting to sell a technology, known as circulating fluidized bed (CFB), to convert coal to cleaner energy. "Many Chinese plants built in the last five years have used proven CFB technology," says Lin. "Now, there is a lot of interest from developing countries where cost is important."