Beijing Enveloped In Heavy Smog

Two Chinese entrepreneurs became billionaires earlier this week when their companies rose exponentially on the prospect of new pollution laws after a Chinese documentary similar to “An Inconvenient Truth”. “Zhang Kaiyuan, chairman of Beijing SPC Environment Protection Tech Co., has a net worth of $1.1 billion, while Ao Xiaoqiang, chairman of Beijing SDL Technology Co., has a $1.2 billion fortune, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Both companies are based in Beijing.

China’s annual meeting of the National People’s Congress, which begins March 5 in the capital, is expected to set government policies for the year on issues such as pollution. “Under the Dome,” a Chinese film investigating the fallout of the country’s poor air quality, drew millions of viewers over the weekend, putting a renewed spotlight on the issue ahead of the gathering of lawmakers.” [Bloomberg Business]

Despite a decrease in the number of wind farms across the state, wind energy is still viewed as being a critical investment strategy for Minnesota energy in the next few years. “Rated at nearly 500 megawatts, Minnesota Power’s Bison wind farm is the largest in its neighboring state.

Meanwhile, Minnesota has dropped three places since 2011 in the America Wind Energy Association rankings as Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington have surged up the rankings and as the state has focused on solar energy production. “There has been a bit of a lag, but I would frame it as our utilities are ahead of the curve in meeting their 2025 standards,” said Beth Soholt, executive director of Wind on the Wires.” [Midwest Energy News]

SunEdison has bought an energy storage outfit to expand into an emerging market that will rely partly on the increase of wind and solar energy generation. “SunEdison closed the deal to buy Solar Grid Storage in January, paying an undisclosed sum. The sale of Solar Grid reflects the difficulties of lining up money to develop and build energy storage projects.

Solar Grid was a 2-year-old, angel investor-funded startup when I met its CEO, Tom Leyden, in the fall of 2013. The company specialized in developing projects that combined solar with lithium-ion battery systems, and back then, it had to finance the solar portion separately from the energy storage part. Since large financial institutions weren’t willing to invest in storage, Leyden was raising money from “boutique investors” who demanded 12-15% returns, about twice as much as would be expected from solar projects, he noted then.” [Forbes]