Li Hejun was born in 1967 to a Hakka family in Heyuan City, Guangdong Province. He graduated from Beijing Jiaotong University in 1988 with a BS (Bachelor of Science) degree in Mechanical Engineering. He started his doctoral studies at Cambridge University in Macro Economics from 2002.
Li is now serving as the Vice Chairman of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce (ACFIC), a Delegate of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the Chairman of China New Energy Chamber of Commerce (CNECC), and the Board Chairman and CEO of Hanergy Holding Group.
Li was ranked by New Fortune as the richest person of China in 2014 and 2015 with personal wealth of 13.4 billion and 25.5 billion USD respectively. In 2015, he was ranked China’s richest person by Hurun Report with 24.6 billion USD.
In 1991, Li Hejun started Hanergy with 50,000 Yuan (approximately 8,000 USD), borrowed from his college teacher. After 20 years, Hanergy now is the world’s largest hydropower enterprise and also the world’s largest thin film solar enterprise. In his 20 years of entrepreneurship, he has accomplished two miracles of the Chinese business circle. The first one is that Li led a team of more than 10,000 members to construct a private 3GW hydropower station, Jin’anqiao hydropower station, starting from scratches. The hydropower station was over the Jinsha River in Yunnan Province of China, at an altitude of more than 2000 meters. It cost Li ten years (2002-2011) and more than 20 billion Yuan (3.5 billion US dollars). Jin’anqiao hydropower station is the world’s largest private hydropower station, 10% larger than that of the Gezhou Dam of China and 30% larger than the Hoover Dam of the United States.
The second miracle is that, he led Hanergy to make massive strategic transition and industrial upgrade from 2010. From 2010 to 2015, Li led Hanergy to enter the thin film solar industry, which was not seen as a promising investment back then. Hanergy’s strategic transition took 6 years, with a total investment over 50 billion Yuan. Through 4 overseas M&As, Hanergy now ranks No. 1 globally in thin-film solar, in terms of output, technology, covering the whole industrial chain.
While creating two miracles in Chinese history of economy, Li made an important strategic judgment that “being thin and flexible is the future of solar industry”. He believes that thin film solar is like artificial chlorophyll, enabling humans to utilize sunshine like green plants. Thin film solar is waging a new industrial revolution of energy production and consumption – and this upcoming industrial revolution is as profound as that of the internet. Thin film power is showing us to a mobile energy era, where we can generate and utilize power in a mobile way like we use mobile internet and mobile phones.
Li Hejun is an advocate of new energy revolution. He and his company are dedicated to “changing the world by clean power”. In 2011, Li Hejun raised the concept of users “generating power for their own consumption and selling surplus to the grid.” This notion was affirmed by the Chinese government and enacted as a national policy, changing the landscape of the Chinese energy sector. In 2014, Li raised the concept of Mobile Energy for the first time in the world, which was highly appraised and recognized by the energy industry and beyond. He posits, “highly-efficient, flexible thin film solar technology enables us as humans to live without the traditional way of using fossil energy mostly by burning, instead, every person, even every item can generate power, and human society will enter an era characterized by distributed power generation.”
In November 2013, Li Hejun published his first book, New Energy Revolution: the Power to Change China and the World. The book emphasizes that the nature of industrial revolutions is indeed energy revolution. In the future, competitions for energy will not be for resources, but core technology. During the meanwhile, this book systematically argues that “a combination of thin film power and internet will lead to the Third Industrial Revolution.”The English version of this book, China's New Energy Revolution, was published in 2014, receiving positive comments from all over the world.
With his charisma and strategic vision, endurance and perseverance of ten tough years, and his dedication to dreams, Li is widely recognized as one of the Chinese entrepreneurs with the Most Respectable Entrepreneurship.
Li also launched multiple philanthropic programs. As the one of the primary sponsors and the first executive director-general of the China Red Ribbon Foundation (a special fund for AIDS prevention and treatment in China), Li has made profound contributions to the programs of anti-AIDS, education, anti-desertification in China and poverty relief.