Li Hejun

Chairman, Hanergy | China

For leading China’s solar energy blitz by buying up American firms.

Li Hejun, China’s fifth-richest billionaire, has helped make China the world’s leader in (increasingly cheap) solar technology. It happened fast enough to put the United States on its heels: Only in December did the U.S. government close a loophole that had enabled Chinese solar panels to sidestep otherwise heavy tariffs. Li’s aggressive acquisitions of struggling American solar companies have made his firm, which produces clean power, one of the world’s largest suppliers of thin-film solar panels. In 2013, he bought Arizona-based Global Solar and Silicon Valley’s MiaSolé, two leading players in the industry, then California-based Alta Devices the next year.