Tuesday, November 17, 2009

U.S.-China Clean Energy Announcements

Today the U.S. Department of Energy released the following announcement, which details several U.S.-China energy initiatives very much consistent with the recommendations of our recent Carnegie Council working group. The announcement is below.

Beijing, China - Today, President Barack Obama and President Hu Jintao announced a far-reaching package of measures to strengthen cooperation between the United States and China on clean energy.

1. U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center. The two Presidents announced the establishment of the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center. The Center will facilitate joint research and development of clean energy technologies by teams of scientists and engineers from the United States and China, as well as serve as a clearinghouse to help researchers in each country. The Center will be supported by public and private funding of at least $150 million over five years, split evenly between the two countries. Initial research priorities will be building energy efficiency, clean coal including carbon capture and storage, and clean vehicles. The Protocol formally establishing the Center was signed in Beijing by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Chinese Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang, and Chinese National Energy Agency Acting Administrator Zhang Guobao.

2. U.S.-China Electric Vehicles Initiative. The two Presidents announced the launch of the U.S.-China Electric Vehicles Initiative. Building on the first-ever US-China Electric Vehicle Forum in September 2009, the initiative will include joint standards development, demonstration projects in more than a dozen cities, technical roadmapping and public education projects. The two leaders emphasized their countries’ strong shared interest in accelerating the deployment of electric vehicles in order to reduce oil dependence, cut greenhouse gas emissions and promote economic growth.

3. U.S.-China Energy Efficiency Action Plan. The two Presidents announced the launch of a new U.S.-China Energy Efficiency Action Plan. Under the new plan, the two countries will work together to improve the energy efficiency of buildings, industrial facilities, and consumer appliances. U.S. and Chinese officials will work together and with the private sector to develop energy efficient building codes and rating systems, benchmark industrial energy efficiency, train building inspectors and energy efficiency auditors for industrial facilities, harmonize test procedures and performance metrics for energy efficient consumer products, exchange best practices in energy efficient labeling systems, and convene a new U.S.-China Energy Efficiency Forum to be held annually, rotating between the two countries.

4. U.S.-China Renewable Energy Partnership. The two Presidents announced the launch of a new U.S.-China Renewable Energy Partnership. Under the Partnership, the two countries will develop roadmaps for wide-spread renewable energy deployment in both countries. The Partnership will also provide technical and analytical resources to states and regions in both countries to support renewable energy deployment and will facilitate state-to-state and region-to-region partnerships to share experience and best practices. A new Advanced Grid Working Group will bring together U.S. and Chinese policymakers, regulators, industry leaders, and civil society to develop strategies for grid modernization in both countries. A new U.S.-China Renewable Energy Forum will be held annually, rotating between the two countries.

5. 21st Century Coal. The two Presidents pledged to promote cooperation on cleaner uses of coal, including large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration projects. Through the new U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center, the two countries are launching a program of technical cooperation to bring teams of U.S. and Chinese scientists and engineers together in developing clean coal and CCS technologies. The two governments are also actively engaging industry, academia, and civil society in advancing clean coal and CCS solutions. The Presidents welcomed: (i) a grant from the U.S. Trade and Development Agency to the China Power Engineering and Consulting Group Corporation to support a feasibility study for an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plant in China using American technology, (ii) an agreement by Missouri-based Peabody Energy to participate in GreenGen, a project of several major Chinese energy companies to develop a near-zero emissions coal-fired power plant, (iii) an agreement between GE and Shenhua Corporation to collaborate on the development and deployment of IGCC and other clean coal technologies; and (iv) an agreement between AES and Songzao Coal and Electric Company to use methane captured from a coal mine in Chongqing, China, to generate electricity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

6. Shale Gas Initiative. The two Presidents announced the launch of a new U.S.-China Shale Gas Resource Initiative. Under the Initiative, the U.S. and China will use experience gained in the United States to assess China’s shale gas potential, promote environmentally-sustainable development of shale gas resources, conduct joint technical studies to accelerate development of shale gas resources in China, and promote shale gas investment in China through the U.S.-China Oil and Gas Industry Forum, study tours, and workshops.
U.S.-China Fact Sheet on Shale Gas Initiative

7. U.S.-China Energy Cooperation Program. The two Presidents announced the establishment of the U.S.-China Energy Cooperation Program. The program will leverage private sector resources for project development work in China across a broad array of clean energy projects, to the benefit of both nations. More than 22 companies are founding members of the program. The ECP will include collaborative projects on renewable energy, smart grid, clean transportation, green building, clean coal, combined heat and power, and energy efficiency.

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Christopher Smith said...

Bravo to presidents Obama and Hu for at least building a framework where the Us and China, the top two global greenhouse gas polluters, can share ideas on how to curb their emissions with the least damaging effect on their economies. Maybe it is the cynic in me, but this feels like a P.R. announcement bent on putting the two worst offenders in a positive light just before the world gathers in Copenhagen to hammer out a global climate deal. Why couldn't these initiatives been incorporated into the Copenhagen process? My guess is that they do not go far enough to significantly restrain US/Chinese emissions from IPCC climate stabilization targets.

$30 million per year for 5 years for the clean energy research center. Really? It seems like an awfully paltry amount from two enormous economies to tackle a threat like climate change that could potentially devastate both economies in time. Joint standards on electric cars? What I would have liked to see instead was pledges to massively investment in electric car technology so that it could cheapen the product to the point where electric cars could realistically compete with gasoline powered ones. Otherwise you are linking standards to a market that won't really exist because no one can afford the high price of an electric car. Like I said before this is an attempt at good P.R. before Copenhagen because I have a feeling there may be some global disappointment in the US and China's climate commitments.

Usi Omondiagbe said...

Although my take on the issue is different, I do find your comment really interesting Chris. Seeing the US and China collaborate in tackling a major international challenge such as climate change is a landmark achievement in the process of globalization (economically, politically, and socio-culturally). Gone are the days when superpowers react to emerging power balance through containment. By constructively engaging with China, the U.S. is reinforcing the idea of a multilateral international system. My hope is that developing economies benefit from the research and implementation efforts aimed at addressing climate change.

deno said...

Usi I think Chris is right in many respects when he looks at what is and isn’t most likely to be in any Copenhagen deal. Nonetheless developing countries stand at a disadvantage and for some us who are witnessing how China is robbing Africa; we genuinely question Copenhagen, unlike my friend Usi who seems to have faith that Copenhagen may produce benefits for the developing world especially the proposed carbon market which if hind sight is 20/20 then it would just encourage emission of carbon dioxide rather than cub it. In essence it depends where a country is on the ladder of developed.

Jean Joseph said...

In spite of issues such as trade, human rights and so on; the two largest polluters, United States and China, have finally recognized the importance to cooperate in order to succeed in Green House Gas emission (GHG). As reported by the “Financial Times”, China’s ambition plan on renewable energy is to dominate this bourgeoning industry and, actually, it out-investing the United States. Conscious of this situation, the Obama’s administration has taken this matter on hand while applying a pragmatic foreign policy toward China by assuring its leaders that, differently from the previous administration, under his administration China would not be doubtful of playing its role as an emerging economic power. On the other hand, it is certain that the United States is not willing to give an absolute reign to any emerging countries. However, the cooperation on clean energy between the United States and China represents an important step in building a long term relationship.

fatem said...

I agree with Chris and Denis. This is a bold move by two world's biggest polluters. I will go further to say that this is a radical move. On the part of China for once considering global environmental issues while gaining margin of benefits --economic, technical and so forth. On the side of the United States for signaling that we are a polluter country, but we are considering global environmental issues in our calculations, and most importantly, we are ready to lead once again on the climate change front. I am skeptical of Copenhagen. I really have no faith that it will bring any meaningful solutions to the problems, left alone what will be in it for developing countries.

Kerol said...

If we take this initiative at face value, we might think there is a glimmer of hope that finally the planet will finally get a deserving brake from the two greatest polluters. However I do have some reservations in the practicability initiative and the implementation of the protocols.
In protocol:
1) I doubted that 150 million dollars would be sufficient to fund this clean energy research center.
2) How would auto industry in the US react to the electric vehicle initiative? How long would it take to commercialize such vehicle while millions gas-guzzlers are roaming the street and highways.
3) Energy Efficiency Action Plan. How would that be implemented? Would the government subsidy the public in changing their current appliances? Then again how long would that take to reach the desired level of success?
I would like to believe that these two countries really mean business when it comes to protecting the environment, but in reality this is not going to happen as China see the US as a competitor that would not shy at anything to prevent China in becoming a great industrialized nation.