$20b deals take clean energy cooperation to practical levels

Updated: 2011-01-26 10:57

By Meng Jing (China Daily)

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BEIJING - The recently announced $20 billion deals on clean energy between China and the United States have brought collaboration between the two countries to the next level, boosting closer ties on green technology, experts said.

As many as 18 transactions regarding clean energy were signed during President Hu Jintao's four-day state visit to the US last week, pointing to a promising future of cooperation between the two countries in this field, said Xia Yishan, a researcher with China Institute of International Studies.

"The two countries have established a common interest in this specific field," said Xia, adding the huge deals symbolized the mutual trust between China and the US.

He said cooperation on clean energy is set to move forward, and would be a win-win situation for China and the US, as well as for the world.

The 18 deals were signed in various clean energy categories, including nuclear, wind, solar and hydro power, as well as smart grid, coal capture and storage.

Li Yan, climate and energy campaigner of Greenpeace, said a broader collaboration can be seen in this year's deals.

"In 2009, the cooperation between China and the US was only limited to clean coal technologies, electric vehicles and gasification for generating electricity," she said, adding the cooperation has become more practical.

China and the US consume almost the same amounts of energy every year, accounting for 40 percent of the world's total.

Trade tensions between the two countries have heated up in recent months, with Washington's request for consultations, dated Dec 22, representing the second time in less than four months that it has accused China of violating World Trade Organization rules by awarding special government funds to its wind power makers.

Latest statistics from Greenpeace and the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association show that China installed 16 gW of wind power capacity last year, bringing its total capacity to 41.8 gigawatts, surpassing the US and becoming the largest wind-installation country in the world.

Moreover, investments in China's clean energy sector have been soaring in recent years to maintain a strong development of China's green industry.

In the second quarter of 2010, the total financing of large wind power, solar power and hydropower plants in the world reached $28.9 billion, of which China took up $11.5 billion. The US had only $4.9 billion, SSG Capital, a Beijing financial consulting firm, said.

Li said China's clean energy development has been fast, thanks to the country's renewable energy laws and renewable energy industry plan.

"The lack of clear policy orientation resulted in the lack of confidence and industry planning, and finally the slow development of clean energy industry in the US," she said.

But the US still retains its edge in terms of research and development, and infrastructure. "Since the US has realized the situation, it would keep its competitive edge and have more interaction with China in this industry," said Li.

Li said in the clean energy field, the best model for China-US ties should be win-win, not zero-sum game. "To create the win-win situation, both of the counties should clarify their development direction and perform more R&D activities together," she said.

Lin Boqiang, director of China Center for Energy Economics Research in Xiamen University, said that to promote cooperation in clean energy, the US should further its loosen its policies and speed up exports of technology, both in clean energy and environment protection, to China.

Lin Jing contributed to this story.

China Daily


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