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Xingtai basks in sunshine of new energy

Since the outbreak of the global financial crisis, many countries around the world have redoubled efforts to commercially develop new forms of energy.

If made viable, new energy could reduce the pressure to import foreign fuel, diminish the outflow of cash and greatly cut level of pollutants in the environment.

In north China's Hebei province, the small city of Xingtai is also taking the initiative in answer to today's challenges through a campaign to develop new energy sources.

Xingtai has been known for years one of the country's most polluted cities due to its heavy industry. But the once-obscure city wants to be called by another name - New Energy City.

The local government recently announced a major commitment to establish a "new energy industrial base" with the theme of "New Energy, New Xingtai and New Growth Engine".

Xingtai's government held a new energy industry development forum in late August in Xiamen of Fujian province to hear feedback and draw attention to its bid to push development of new energy.

"It is a golden opportunity for Xingtai to alter its traditional industrial framework as both China and the world are focusing on promoting renewable energy," said Mayor Liu Daqun.

According to the mayor, the city will spend 24 billion yuan over the next five to 10 years supporting the development of a sun-tech industry in a bid to become China's largest solar energy center.

Shi Dinghuan, chief director of China Renewable Energy Society, said that Xingtai's plans are promising because both China and the rest of the world are committed to finding new engines of economic growth.

The Xingtai New Energy Industrial Center has already signed strategic partnerships with the China Renewable Energy Society, the China Materials Research Society and the Shenzhen Solar Energy Association, and built a research and development (R&D) center with Southeast University.

"We will spare no efforts to play a leading role in establishing a green economy," said a senior official from the Environmental Protection Bureau of Xingtai city.

According to the official, the move follows the country's energy conservation and emission control policy that has drawn widespread attention in recent years. He pointed out it was necessary for Xingtai to alter its existing image of a heavy admitter of carbon gases.

Rich resources

The city has a strong foundation for development of a new energy sector, the mayor said.

Nearby mountains can provide the city with abundant quartz needed to make polysilicon for solar panels. Research and development (R&D) will be the driving force in new energy development, according to an official from the administration council of the New Energy Industrial Center.

Large R&D facilities now under construction will include centers for research in wind energy, energy collection and solar battery technology.

A training center is also planned to show the city's capacity and potential to become a new energy industry center.

The local government also formulated policies to attract investment by world-class new energy giants to join the solar energy equipment manufacturing enterprises and sun-tech suppliers already in production.

Jinglong Group, the world's largest monocrystal silicon manufacturing company, has established a branch in Xingtai with 35 solar battery production lines and 500 monocrystal silicon processing stations.

Other solar companies already operating include Jingniu Group, Yingxin Group and Hebei-based Bomei Sun-tech Developing Co. A new sun-tech demonstration project by Southeast University is under construction.

Located on the Bohai Bay rim, which enjoys central government support to become another of the nation's major economic growth centers, Xingtai is only 380 km north of Beijing and benefits from modern transport infrastructure including railways, expressways and the ports of Tianjin and Huanghua.

Due to the advantages, Xingtai's city government is ambitious to draw more well-known companies from home and abroad.

"We expect to build up the country's largest new energy center in the future," according to a local official.

"On the way to achieving the goal of building a greener Xingtai, we need more support from both home and abroad, including higher technology, more investment and stronger participants, which will lead to greater success in the energy campaign," the official added.

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