Sino-Tex Renewable Array // Foreign Policy
We have more news about China. They have decided to buy ranches in Texas, and build windmills on it. Well, a certain firm and businessman, naturally tethered directly to the governing body of the rice-consuming state, has done it. The headline of this “foreign policy” article makes this sound very interesting, but it is simply a whole load of speculation and political sound bits with fast and tight orbits about a general fear of Chinese money. Hey - I don’t blame them, but for the time I spent slogging through this we wanted some insight and not a 2 decade surface scan mixtape of wind farm and china controversy. While the article is tame and lame, I am very intrigued as to how this development comes about as well as the level of direct Chinese control beyond money.
Much opposition to the development, the “Blue Hills Wind Development”, mimics perennial wind-woes. Primely being a direct danger for wildlife and an overall negative for ecotourism by way of wildlife is a given - importantly this installation will lie in the path of a principal monarch butterfly flyway. More interestingly is the idea of it being part of a Chinese covert attack strategy or economy subverter. The potential for cameras to be mounted atop the turbines and aimed at a nearby military base aside, the prime worry is the interruption of training flight paths. Then, at a point where intrigue peaks, there are the possibilities stemming from a Chinese controlled contribution to the power grid - operational and economical.
“Would they be able to manipulate the industrial control systems on their side? Obviously, because they would they would own that,” said Hurd. “Is there a way that by being connected to our electrical grid, that you would be able to overload that grid?”
Operationally, we could think about a sector where reasonable oversight is intuitively warranted, the “tech” sector. In tech the cheap/fast carriage of data and a vast globally accessible network makes cyber attack inevitable, and on the inter-nation Risk board you will imagine ideas of remote influence and flexible control of ubiquitous devices and outwardly attractive services capable of information collection, distortion, propagation and distraction. When it comes to “energy” sector though, I am completely lost. In my assumptions, China will not be shipping over bespoke trojan backdoored turbines, if they are even fabricated over there at all. They definitely won’t import a staff of nationals with ulterior motives to maintain and operate them, surely.
Under the guidance of the “One Belt and One Road” initiative, the company’s strategic development direction for a period of time in the future is to devote itself to the energy development of the entire industry chain business model, stably develop the Central Asian market, actively explore the North American market, and focus on the “four three projects.” link
Let’s seek out some details beyond the interest-initiating news article. The installation would presumably be headed by GH America Energy, of which the broader Guanghui firm is parent. The location of this entity, subleased office space in the beautiful Williams Tower in Houston, is shared with the broader “GH America Investments” subsidiary alongside “Brazos Highland” subsidiary. They have diverse range of mineral interests in texas and also applied for and secured a COVID paycheck protection loan from the government, which is pretty funny to me. “Brazos Highland” seems to represent a real estate holding arm.
Mr. Sun owns 130,000 acres of land in Val Verde County, but as of yet it seems the enterprise is without precedent in operating a site that supplies power, right now holding interests as red tape is toyed with. However, once plans do go ahead and they are coroneted into the power industry, access to “security industry alerts, private industry insights and national security threat assessments” will be necessitated, which could perhaps re-instate worry where before it seemed far-fetched. While any plant might not be filled with lever pulling drones of sworn allegiance, the higher ups all seem to be prestigious Chinamen - and they might be unusually attentive and detail-oriented in meetings. Either that or they’re taking unusual absences.
Looking briefly toward a different case of a “foreign-backed” wind farm stateside, we can find Roscoe Wind Farm. Initially developed and operated by Irish firm Airtricity, it was shortly taken over by E.ON before a latest acquisition by RWE - two corporations from Germany - in Texas. While perhaps these German firms are less susceptible to direct state subsumption than Chinese ones, evidenced by the likely unwelcome shake-up between the two at the hands of the decentralizing, public co-operative promoting,municipal focus boosting and sometimes ailing Energiewende, it is interesting in and of itself if nothing else. Using leased land, rather than land owned ala Mr. Sun, the landowners , including notable former cotton-farmer, appear to get healthy income from having windmills built atop their space.
“Interesting thing about these windmills,” says Cliff Etheredge. “For those people who come through the country and want to know what they’re for, we tell ‘em that we turn ‘em on when it gets real still and hot around here, so it’ll create a breeze and cool this country off. Some of ‘em actually believe it!” Link
The next step on from such a farm would be distribution and infrastructure, in Roscoe’s case this might be a company like Sempra or some municipal solution, before a provider can dole it out and perhaps try to defraud members of the public directly. This is the area Mr. Sun will be breaking new ground by accessing. I have conveniently left out the most interesting factor though, the turbines themselves. Listen to this.
The turbine construction is sourced to external manufacturers, of which there are many worldwide. At our site in Roscoe, we can find that Siemens (DE), Mitsubishi (JP) and General Electric (USA) have fulfilled contracts for different parts of the farm. Can we see a Chinese firm manufacturing these pylons? Most definitely. Xinjiang Goldwind, a much more internationally visible state-entangled firm than Guanghui, provides a 13.2% share of the onshore and offshore worldwide turbine fabrication supply according to a 2019 report, ranking 3rd in the world. It isn’t just the worldwide leaderboard they have set foot on, they have constructed their pylons worldwide, including stateside. Why did nobody tell me about this? They could have wiretaps and packet sniffers lining tower surface area. Can they get performance data remotely? Who knows, but I am done reading about this.
In conclusion, while my feelings on this threat and industrial creep may seem somewhat a little indifferent, and articulated in a bit of a mocking way with regard to more far-fetched dangers, I do not mean to be dismissive in the slightest. My advice to Mr. President Biden, is principle-over-rationale, simple and spirited: divest Mr. Sun of all his stateside assets immediately, publicly and visibly pour the liquid obtained from re-sale into a biochem research institute and in the process save monarch butterflies from a humiliating defeat to locust-like Chinese pseudo-enterprise, instead letting them suffer at the hands of spirited God and Guns loving Texans municipally, British venture or whichever market participator of non-communist descent offers the most. Make sure you write that down sir.