TIANJIN, CHINA - On the final day of his trip to China with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu visited ENN Headquarters in Langfang, Hebei Province, where a focus on clean energy generation has led to the creation of thousands of new jobs. Fact sheet on ENN below.
On Friday Secretary Chu also delivered remarks at Tianjin University, where his grandfather was Dean and President, and discussed the importance of technological cooperation and codevelopment in addressing the global climate change challenge and furthering economic recovery in both the U.S. and China. Background on Secretary Chu's family connections to Tianjin University below.
FACT SHEET ON ENN
ENN is an innovative and integrated 'new energy' company. Founded in 1989 as a small taxi company, and then as a natural-gas distributor, ENN has found its niche in the Chinese energy market (where private companies often find it difficult to compete) by focusing on clean energy. Now the seventh-largest private company in China, ENN has revenues totaling $1.7 billion and more than 20,000 employees. It hopes to expand globally and plans to obtain 50% of its revenue from abroad by 2020.
The ENN campus in Langfang, Hebei Province, is fashioned after Google's and attracts many of China's top engineers and scientists. ENN's solar production facility is reportedly about to break the world record for making solar panels competitive with most every fuel except cheap coal. ENN is one of the few companies in the world that can mass produce thin-film solar panels. In late 2008, the World Bank's International Financing Corporation announced a $136 million investment into ENN's solar business.
Coal Gasification and Algae-to-Biodiesel
ENN owns a coal mine in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, producing 600,000 metric tons per year. On the Langfang campus, the company has a cutting-edge underground low-temperature coal gasification plant producing dimethyl ether, which can be used for fuel in power plants and does not emit sulfur dioxide or soot when burned. ENN recently signed a contract to build a plant in Egypt that will produce 200,000 tons of dimethyl ether annually. Carbon from gasified coal is also fed into a 10,000-liter greenhouse where algae are bred for biodiesel, fertilizer and animal feed. ENN plans to scale up its algae process to a 100-hectare site within three years, likely around its Ordos coal mine.
U.S. Business Ties
ENN has several business connections to the United States. Its solar program is a joint venture with Silicon Valley-based Applied Materials; ENN hopes to launch its own new-generation product line in two to three years. ENN also licenses a GE process for coal gasification.
BACKGROUND ON SECRETARY CHU'S FAMILY CONNECTIONS TO TIANJIN UNIVERSITY
Secretary Chu's maternal grandfather, Li Shu Tian, earned a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering at Cornell University. He returned to China and eventually became Dean and President of Pieyang University (now called Tianjin University) in 1932. He served in this capacity for about 11 years (including non-consecutive terms) and helped steer the University through a tumultuous period during the Japanese invasion and World War II. During that period, he helped lead the efforts to relocate the University to a safer position and then helped lead the relocation back to Tianjin.
Li Shu Tian and his family left the country in 1949, emigrating to the United States where he updated his training and went back to work as a civil engineer. Later in life, he became a Professor of Civil Engineering in the midwest, and is among those who helped inspire Secretary Chu to a career of scholarship.