The need for energy generation from sustainable and renewable sources is an issue that brings the whole world together - and cooperation between China and Scotland is a powerful example of what can be achieved, and how we can all benefit.
China is a leading country while Scotland is the leading nation in the development of clean, green energy technologies.
The key to success is combining these Chinese and Scottish strengths - and we already have several practical examples of what can be achieved.
One of the key purposes of my visit to China is to encourage further Sino-Scottish cooperation in renewable energy. On last Thursday, I had the privilege of opening the newly expanded offices of the Scottish-based energy company, SgurrEnergy, in Beijing. I also addressed the Scotland and China Energy Seminar, which will hopefully pave the way for even more cooperation in the future.
SgurrEnergy began their operations in an attic in Scotland - now they are a global player and have had a presence in Beijing since 2006. They are involved in some huge projects, including work to assess 10,000 km of Chinese coastline for offshore windfarm capabilities, and involvement in the first Western-funded windfarm in China in Ballingmiao, Inner Mongolia. SgurrEnergy also plans to launch into China their new laser-based device for capturing windspeed and direction, the Galion Lidar.
Already, China boasts an installed renewables capacity of 152 GW and the scale of the country's investment in green energy is both impressive and encouraging, totaling more than 80 billion yuan ($11.7 billion) in 2007.
China has plans to increase its installed hydropower capacity to 190 million KW by 2010. China's solar power industry, currently the world's largest producer of solar heaters and the third-largest manufacturer of photovoltaic cells, should recover with a global economic upturn, and the wind power sector is rapidly building momentum with an increase of wind power capacity to 10 million KW by 2010. Indeed, I have seen an estimate of China's wind power potential at a staggering 1,000 GW.
To achieve these goals, China wants to work together with experts from around the world to implement the newest technologies, in which Scotland is a world leader. The renewable energy sector, perhaps more than any other, offers substantial opportunities for China and Scotland to collaborate and explore vast potential benefits. We already have a strong track record of working together and I am confident that together, Scotland and China can achieve extraordinary progress in renewables.
Scotland possesses 25 percent of Europe's offshore wind resources. We have 11,500 km of coastline - some two-thirds of the total for the whole of China - which translates into an estimated one-quarter of Europe's tidal power and 10 per cent of its total wave power potential. Little wonder that Fortune Magazine recently announced that "Scotland rules the waves".
We can be a valuable partner in helping China maximize its renewable energy potential. Already, China and Scotland have partnered on a variety of projects, including the development of wind farms in Hebei and Inner Mongolia by Airtricity, capable of generating 250 MW of power.
Another Scottish company, Sea Energy Renewables - one of the only companies in the world with deepwater offshore wind experience - is already working in China to assist the development of offshore wind and particularly deepwater offshore wind. Scottish firms such as Howden, Clydeblowers and the Weir Group are recognized experts in clean energy, and they have long enjoyed productive relationships within China.
Scotland's strength as a partner for China in meeting its renewable energy goals is fueled by our commitment to innovation. With our abundance of natural resources, it is estimated we could meet our country's own energy needs up to 10 times over from renewable sources alone. To realize this potential, the Scottish government has adopted the most ambitious renewable energy targets in Europe, setting 31 percent of electricity production from renewables by 2011 and 50 percent by 2020, and we are already ahead of schedule in meeting these targets.
We believe that innovation is the key to tapping this potential and that this challenge is one that we as a global community must work on together.
With a prize fund of 10 million pounds ($14.9 million), the Scottish government's Saltire Prize is the world's biggest innovation prize for marine renewables. In a few short months, it has already attracted nearly 100 registers of interest from countries around the world. We are delighted to have on the Saltire Prize Challenge Committee, among leading global experts, the President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Professor Lu Yongxiang.
We are also positioning Scotland to help lead the development of carbon capture and storage, translating the skills and experience from some 40 years of North Sea oil and gas extraction to the challenges of ensuring clean carbon capture. China is heavily dependent on coal, which accounts for 70 percent of its energy consumption with its coal use expected to reach 2.9 billion tons in 2020. To reduce coal-related environmental pollution in cities, China continues to explore utilizing clean coal technology, an area where Scotland can also help.
Scotland is already home to the global technology hub of Doosan Babcock, leaders in clean coal combustion technology, and Scottish candidates are competing for the UK's first carbon capture and storage demonstrator project. Most importantly, we want the benefits of this advanced research to be shared as widely as possible - not least here in China, where clean coal technology could help ensure a long-term future of strong and sustainable economic growth.
There is no doubt that Scotland has great energy expertise and China has huge opportunity. By marrying the two together, we can benefit both nations - and the whole world.
The author is First Minister of Scotland.
(China Daily April 15, 2009)