In conjunction with the ongoing state visit by a Chinese delegation to the United States, the U.S. Department of Energy has issued a progress report on U.S.-China Clean Energy Cooperation. According to the report, “Energy innovation in one country accelerates clean energy deployment in all countries.” In addition, the report asserts that “the combined research expertise and market size of the U.S. and China provide an unprecedented opportunity to develop clean energy solutions that will reduce pollution and improve energy security while enhancing economic growth globally.” A few highlights of the report from a clean energy perspective are:
- An “Energy Efficiency Action Plan.“ According to the report, “the U.S. and China have a shared interest in energy efficiency,” as “[e]nergy-saving technologies deployed in one country will reduce energy costs for the other and benefit both economies.”
- An “Electric Vehicles Initiative.” The report points out, correctly, that the United States and China are “the world’s largest automobile markets and oil consumers,” and that “[w]orking together to accelerate the deployment of electric vehicles will improve both countries’ energy security and save American and Chinese consumers money at the pump.”
- A “U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center.” A $150 million “flagship initiative” with “initial R&D focus areas” including “building energy efficiency, clean coal and clean vehicles.”
- A “U.S.-China Energy Cooperation Program,” “a private-public partnership that develops clean energy solutions in both countries and which has “ten sector-based working groups through which it develops and realizes clean energy commercial opportunities.”
In addition, the report notes that the two countries are cooperating on “environmentally-sustainable development of shale gas resources,” “developing clean coal and carbon capture and storage technologies,” and “cooperation on the advancement of peaceful uses of nuclear energy.” While none of these fall under our definition of “cleantech,” they certainly illustrate the broad range of cooperation on energy matters between the two countries.
In related news, on Tuesday evening, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu spoke about the U.S.-China energy relationship. According to Chu, the relationship offers the potential for “economic gain,” “the opportunity to solve the problem that confronts the world,” and “great, great wealth for both these countries.”
China certainly is moving to take advantage of the enormous potential offered by clean energy. As the Washington Post reported in September 2010, China is “leading the world in clean energy investment,” with $34.6 billion invested in 2009 compared to $18.6 billion by the United States. In addition, China is investing heavily in building a smart grid, while the United States “is at a snail's pace in injecting grants and loans for smart grid programs and pilot projects.” And China has surpassed the United States in wind power, “ reaching a total of 41.8GW of installed turbines at the end of last year.” Clearly, the United States needs to do more if it wants to compete globally – including with countries like China - in cleantech in the 21st century.