In 2017, I started my career adventure at GCL, a global new and clean energy enterprise in China, which brings me to the front edge of the next energy revolution: renewable energy. Working at the firm for 15 months, I’ve seen the positive impact of renewable energy on the economy and would like to share that we can do well and do good at the same time.
I spent the first 4 months of my journey at GCL-Poly Energy Holdings Co., Ltd. in Xuzhou, China and worked on the upstream of solar-power business—poly-silicon production. My colleagues and I worked morning, day, and night shifts over 24 hours, and had two days off in one shift schedule since we have to take care of the process of poly-silicon production continuously. It takes time and effort to produce poly-silicon because you have to be very careful about temperature control and the amount of raw materials used, which are important for product quality. People consume energy not only in life and work but also in energy production, and it is costly. Some of my co-workers have worked at GCL for over 10 years, and I found that they have developed exclusively advanced technology to produce closed-loop and zero-emission poly-silicon, which brought the cost of poly-silicon production down by 90% and has lessened the power consumption by 64% over 10 years. They work to make renewable energy accessible to everyone. Solar power is now cheaper than coal, and I am excited to see that people can use renewable energy in daily life with no subsidy.
In addition, renewable energy has a positive impact on nature and helps improve people’s standard of living. My colleagues from GCL System Integration Technology Co., Ltd and GCL New Energy Holdings Limited have developed various “PV+Projects” programs, including solar and agriculture, solar and fishery, solar and animal husbandry, solar and poultry complementary PV projects, and floating PV power stations. As an example, take solar and agriculture, specifically cultivating peonies. There are 25-40 different species of peonies and one of them produces oil, which can be further used for fragrance and essential oil. Peony seed oil is also good cooking oil and the root of a peony can be used as medicine. Also, the flowers can be processed into a variety of goods and products. If we combine solar panels and peony cultivation, we can generate energy and grow flowers organically, thus helping farmers earn extra income and save utility expenses.
As we have lowered costs, upgraded technology, and completed successful pilot projects, my colleagues and I are now working to tell more people that renewable energy is not just a marketing strategy; we can actually make real change to society. For instance, the project I work on is to build a platform where family businesses, investors, institutions, and customers can come together and invest in energy on the principle that social good is our priority. My role in this project focuses more on capital markets and dealing with private equity firms, banks, and regulators. When I was at Carey, I learned a lot about financial markets, corporate finance and corporate governance, which prepared me well for the market and made me more confident when doing business.
I discuss our project, prepare pitch books for investors, and coordinate investments. Despite hard financial numbers, I believe social responsibility is also very important to our business. I talk about our “PV+Projects” programs and how we achieve both economic and social good for our clients. I found that people become more interested in our project, and they absolutely love to help us encourage the use of clean energy. We have attracted many investors and professors in academia to work with us. Moreover, one takeaway from working at a multinational energy company is that international trade is very important to utilize our business strategies to achieve win-win resolutions, and I work hard to build partnerships with overseas banks and companies.
I also found that governments from different countries care about environment and they are happy to hear more if we have creative ideas about how to make energy investments more interesting and attractive to young people and those outside of this industry. My colleagues work with governments, tech firms, and enterprises, and what we do is create a transparent, fair, and accessible platform for all participants. We propose that electricity is not the only end-product of energy and we want to make it multi-dimensional. We are not energy takers as before, and we can be market makers to show what we can do for our planet, which I think is very important to pass to future generations.
My experience taught me that we often take energy for granted and it actually gives us far more than what we think. Compared to oil or coal, one of the advantages of renewable energy is that everyone, other than energy producers, can own a stake of it and can do what they can to bring positive impact to the society. It could send extra power to neighbors, plant your garden, or run a boutique business.
We are able to find a way to help us thrive in a healthy way.