Clean tech 'tremendous' for businesses: experts

Updated: 2016-05-11 11:45

By Lia Zhu and Chang Jun in Pasadena, California(China Daily USA)

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Clean technology is not only an important part of the China-US bilateral effort to fight climate change, it also creates "tremendous" business opportunities for both countries, said industry experts at a forum on Tuesday in Pasadena, California.

"Clean technology is a trillion-dollar business opportunity. The opportunities to partner with China are staggering," said Bill Gross, founder and CEO of Idealab, at the US-China Cleantech Innovation Forum.

Gross said China overtook Germany in 2013 and passed all of Europe in adopting clean technology, including electric cars, renewable energy such as solar and wind, energy efficiencies, smart grids and cities and environmental protection technology.

"It used to be that China was only leading in manufacturing but now I believe China is leading in innovation," Gross said. "The demand for energy in China is so large, and of course with the pollution problems, the fossil fuel use is challenging. So I think renewable energy is being adopted in China faster than anywhere else in the world right now."

"I even read about China exporting clean technologies," he added. "China is building 1 million volt transmission lines to maybe even be able to sell power elsewhere in Asia and Europe. So the opportunity in China is staggering."

It is estimated that pollution costs China $250 billion per year and air pollution claims 1.6 million lives in China every year, according to the US-China Cleantech Center (UCCTC), organizer of the forum.

"Environmental crises, one-after-another, have forced the Chinese government to take serious action to declare war on pollution," said Feng An, founder and executive director of UCCTC.

From 2004 to 2014, China's environmental industry grew by 20 percent and the country's environmental investment reached $1.3 trillion to $1.6 trillion, according to UCCTC.

"We know the US has spent hundreds of billions of 'superfund' dollars to clean up its brownfields and turn them into greenfields, imagine how much it would cost to clean up air, water and soil deterioration in all of China," said An.

Shirley Lee, vice-president of the Beijing Xiaoqiong Environmental Protection Group, said although she intended to learn from the US counterparts about the advanced technology and know-how in the clean-tech field, she ended up answering questions from conference attendees about the market potential in China.

"The tremendous market potential in China is enticing," said Lee. "The collaboration between our two countries also means job creation and economic growth on both sides."

"Our two countries must create a policy environment that is friendly and conducive to the development and deployment of clean technologies," said Jeffery Dutton, acting director of the China and Mongolia office of the US Department of Commerce. "Both the United States and China have taken strong measures to build green, low-carbon and climate resilient economies."

The US has committed to finalize its next stage world-class fuel efficiency standards for heavy duty vehicles this year and implement them in 2019, Dutton said. It has also proposed separate standards for methane emissions from landfills and the oil and gas sector, and committed to finalize both standards this year.

President Xi Jinping announced that China aimed to peak emissions before 2030 and the national 13th Five-Year Plan set the goal of reducing total emissions by 10 percent and capping coal consumption at 5 billion tons a year by the end of the plan period in 2020, which was "very exciting for our bilateral cooperation", Dutton said.

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