Policies, techs draw vision of low-carbon growth

By Zhang Zhao (chinadaily.com.cn)

2011-09-15 13:48

Government incentives are important to pave a low-carbon road to economic growth, but companies that improve their industry models and technologies are the main players and also benefit receivers, noted officials and industry insiders at the Summer Davos forum held in Dalian on Sep 14.

"The most important thing is to have the right direction," said Gao Jifan, chairman and CEO of Trina Solar, a national leading solar panel manufacturer in China.

According to Gao, new energy solutions such as solar power, is the "right direction" of future growth, although many deficiencies still exist today. "As long as we have the direction correct, we can succeed as last. But this also requires policies, technologies and investment," he said.

Malini Mehra, founder and CEO of the Centre for Social Markets, a non-profit organization that promotes sustainability, said there are two ways in which the governments can support low-carbon businesses to continue along a "green" path.

"The first is to provide some means of recognizing their good work," she said. And the second is building a measuring system to "verify which company is actually doing well, not just talking about doing well".

Preferential policies are only the foundation, said Gao. "We must have a good overall plan along with advanced technologies to bring value back to the investors."

Gao envisions that most of the world’s families will have "zero-consumption" houses with energy supply and storage systems relying purely on solar power by 2020,.

Without grid limitations, the technology can be used everywhere in the world, especially in the less developed areas.

"The cost of solar technologies has been on the decline over the past few years because of policy incentives and innovations of companies around the world," said Gao.

A solar panel producing one watt’s electricity cost $4 in 2005, but now it is reduced to only $1.2 to $1.3, he explained.

"This is the result of technological innovations and large-scale manufacturing. And it makes us more confident to see the solar energy to become a major part of the energy system in the future."

Being low-carbon also helps a company attract clients because it is the current fashion and customers are more likely to choose low-carbon products, noted Klaus Kleifeld, CEO of the US aluminum products maker Alcoa Inc.

"The generation that we recruit today has a very different social consciousness and standards," he said. "They want to see and only want to work for companies that are sustainable."

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