China and the US have significant potential to cooperate on affordable clean energy technologies and ensure its wide adoption going forward, a leading think-tank expert told China Daily yesterday.
Dennis Bracy, chief executive officer of the US-China Clean Energy Forum, said, "Currently, some of the highly advanced technologies, such as CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) are expensive for any country, not just for China."
"To jointly develop the CCS technology, we recommend that each nation select three projects in their country using different burning, carbon capture and sequestration technologies and do them in a coordinated way by sharing information and research results."
"We would go much faster than if we did them separately," Bracy said.
Coal accounts for about 80 percent of China's power generation while it was only about 50 percent in the US, he said. The two countries need to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) and use it in an environmentally appropriate way at an affordable cost, he said.
Bracy said both China and the US have been working on energy efficiency improvement, electric vehicles, smart grids, biofuel for aviation and so on.
Shenhua Group, China's largest coal miner, is doing research and development on the country's first CCS project at its coal-to-liquids plant, which will be fully operational in one or two years.
The US is the largest consumer of energy in the world. With energy use growing at 15 percent per year, China is catching up rapidly. Together, the US and China account for nearly 50 percent of global energy demand, and spew out a similar percentage of greenhouse gases.
"Both China and the US want to be energy-independent. That means the two countries have much potential to cooperate on alternatives such as wind and solar energy," Bracy said a day ahead of a trip to China by US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Energy Secretary Steven Chu to discuss cooperation on clean energy.
In a bid to implement these "big ideas", the US was likely to borrow some experiences from China, such as the establishment of special economic development zones, Bracy said.
"Shenzhen, Tianjin and other cities are given special statuses and encouraged to do innovative programs," he said, suggesting the two countries should create some sort of energy special zones with special tax laws to implement new energy technologies.
"We feel guilty, as sometimes the US does research and development work in an uncoordinated way," he said. A joint center or mechanism based on clean energy would promote joint research and investment and improve the efficiency of their efforts, he said.
China and the US were planning to discuss the building of a Sino-US clean energy center during the two US secretaries' visit this week, a source previously told China Daily. This would be the first government-level center between China and the US that promoted the use of clean energy.
Bracy hoped the establishment of the center would happen either during this trip or during the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (SED) in Washington later this month. He said that US officials were seriously working on the issue.
China has vowed to cut its energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by some 20 percent from 2005 to 2010. It has also agreed to reduce emissions of its main pollutants by 10 percent.
(China Daily July 14, 2009)