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Expert: Tariffs could disrupt clean energy goals

By Lia Zhu in San Francisco | China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-08-06 22:24

Steven Chu, ex-US energy secretary, concerned about impact on cooperation

The escalating trade tensions between the US and China could affect the clean energy collaborations between the two countries, which have been urged to work together to address global climate change issues, one expert warns.

"I think the escalating trade war affects many, many things, including cooperation for clean energy projects," said Steven Chu, Nobel laureate and former US secretary of energy, on Saturday.

"It's also very bad for the United States, very bad for China, very bad for the world to have these trade wars. I hope Congress steps in and actually nudges the president into the right direction," he said.

Following the 10 percent tariffs on aluminum imposed in early June, the Trump administration is considering adding 10 to 25 percent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, including renewable energy products.

The steel tariffs also are expected to affect development of wind and solar energy, which use more steel than any other form of energy generation.

"(The right direction) is to actually bring down trade tariffs.When you bring down tariffs, as history has shown, everybody benefits. So I think the United States currently is going in the wrong direction andI hope we can reverse the direction," said Chu.

He made the remarks on the sidelines of the US-China Green Energy Summit held by the US-China Green Energy Council on Saturday in Burlingame, California. The meeting brought together dozens of energy experts from the US and China to discuss innovative energy solutions for a greener future.

The speakers all agreed that the potential is huge for China and the US to work together, and the collaboration will not only benefit the two countries but the whole world.

"As we go forward, there are some challenges on the national relationship, but I think when we can connect the scientific-engineering discussions, there's an awful lot of benefit for both sides," said Robert Weisenmiller, chair of the California Energy Commission.

California now has 30 percent of renewable energy generated in use, and the number is expected to reach 50 percent by 2030. That paves the way for a lot of other countries to coordinate their electrical systems, to have affordable electricity and yet still grow the economy, said Chu.

While the US is far ahead in energy technology innovation, China has experiences that other countries can benefit from.

"I think China now is the world's leader in high-voltage transmission systems, which are vital for bringing renewable energy where it's the least expensive to parts of the country where people live and need it," said Chu.

China has set high goals for energy transformation, such as constructing a new generation of clean, low-carbon, safe and efficient energy systems, said Zhou Xiaoxin, a scholar with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and honorary president of the China Electric Power Research Institute.

The country is also aiming to realize the maximum exploitation and utilization of renewable energy resources and high-efficiency energy utilization, he said.

Admitting that there's competition between companies in the marketplace, Chu said the infrastructure is grounds for "very fertile collaborations" between the two countries.

"There are many places in the US that China can collaborate on.I am absolutely convinced, and have been for more than a decade, that China's commitment to clean energy is sincere, and China indeed has become a leader in trying to pave the way for getting off of carbon dioxide emissions," said Chu.

Contact the writer at liazhu@chinadailyusa.com

 

 

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