Solar mogul Cheng Kin Ming unveils massive, multifaceted clean energy initiative

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Reclusive solar and real estate investor Cheng Kin Ming, who bankrolled Shunfeng’s acquisition of Wuxi Suntech, has unveiled his strategy to speed up the transition to renewable energy and transform cities around the globe at the Next Generation Solar PV Finance Conference New York City.

Cheng serves as chairman of APRD, which holds ten clean energy companies, including Shunfeng, Suntech, electric vehicle maker GreenWheel EV, geothermal provider Nobao Renewable Energy, LED maker Lattice Power and battery maker Boston Power.

At the conference Cheng announced big plans for several of these companies, including Nobao, which he says will transform the heating systems of Beijing, Tianjin, and other major cities. "In the next five years, Nobao will completely replace the coal-based heating solutions in Tianjin, Beijing and the other major cities in China using geothermal solutions," said Cheng at the conference.

Cheng also plans to take electric vehicle maker Greenwheel EV public in 2014, and to expand production of electric vehicles to 200,000 to 300,000 annually, including busses. His plans for LED maker Lattice Power are similarly ambitious. Through its production and acquisition of existing sapphire-based LED makers, Chen has plans for APRD to become the leader in LED production.

"There is a lot of over-capacity in the sapphire LED industry in China," noted Cheng.

"We want to leverage this capacity in China to become the largest producer of LEDs in the world."

Overall, Cheng says that he wants to deploy more than 50 GW of installed clean energy capacity in the next 10 years — enough to power over 37 million homes.

Cheng has already invested an estimated $20 billion in solar companies in recent years, making him one of the world’s largest private investor in clean energy technologies. He said his approach was to identify the world’s best complementary clean technology companies to create entire supply chains across multiple verticals and to produce integrated solutions on a massive scale.

"Clean energy brings a much brighter future for mankind and mother earth,” Cheng said. “Investors and entrepreneurs should be focused on this sector. By investing in companies that together bring total solutions, we enable cities to transform the ways they grow and consume resources and we can ensure a high quality of life for us and for future generations."

Cheng acquired a 30% stake in Shunfeng in 2012 and with his backing, the company quickly evolved from a solar developer and operator into one of the world’s largest integrated clean energy companies with capabilities in design, engineering, manufacturing, construction, finance, insurance, operation and maintenance, energy storage, solar products and applications.

Up until now there has been relatively little information about Cheng, but his presentations in the U.S. this week may point to a more active public role in his companies’ growth strategies. A billionaire who acquired his wealth mainly through real estate transactions in China and Hong Kong, Cheng’s wealth and apparently good relations with leading Chinese banks has helped bolster Shunfeng’s expansion. The company recently secured a CNY 20 billion ($3.26 billion) credit line from China Minsheng Banking Corporation.

On Tuesday, Cheng continues his North American tour with a stop at Goldman Sachs’ Clean Energy EcoSummit in Menlo Park, California.