Shrugging off gloom over the economic outlook, Intel Capital on Tuesday announced its first "clean-tech" initiative in China, a $20 million equity investment in Trony Solar Holdings Co.
"The world economy is in a very difficult position, but innovation is the way to help the companies out of financial crisis. Intel Capital is still committed to investing in innovative companies," Cadol Cheung, managing director of Intel Capital for the Asia Pacific, told reporters.
"We have no plans to slow down our investment pace," Cheung said.
Trony, set up in 1993, is one of China's biggest makers of solar energy and wind power equipment, with sales in more than 20 countries.
Intel's investment, its first in clean technologies in China, will be used by Trony to enhance its production and research and development, the Chinese company, based in the southern export hub of Shenzhen, said in a statement.
The two companies did not provide details on the size of Intel Capital's equity stake or other terms of the investment.
"Investing in 'clean-tech' is relatively new for Intel Capital," said Stephen Eichenlaub, Intel Capital's managing director.
Intel Capital, a unit of computer chip maker Intel Corp., has made six investments in clean technology in the past year, including these ones.
"Clean technology area will take on a large strategic significance for Intel's future," Eichenlaub said.
China's renewable energy industry is growing quickly, as the country attempts to shift away from heavily polluting coal and oil-fired power generation to cleaner, more efficient energy sources.
It's not a question of surging oil prices but of long-term sustainability, Eichenlaub said.
"Our challenge as investors is to find technologies where we should be supporting innovation where the price of oil doesn't matter, because we can't control it," he said.
In addition to its investment in Trony, Intel Capital also announced plans to invest in NPH Holdings Ltd., a Chinese company specializing in electricity storage systems for renewable energy. But no details were provided.
Intel Capital established a $500 million Intel Capital China Technology Fund II in April. That followed its first fund of $200 million.
Cheung refused to disclose the returns Intel earned on the first fund, but said its performance provides a benchmark for the larger second fund.
Intel Capital's parent company Intel Corp. has so far weathered the financial crisis with little damage, beating analysts expectations in its third-quarter earnings. But analysts have warned the company could face margin pressures in coming months
Associated Press researcher Bonnie Cao contributed to this report.