Energy officials from China and the United States signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) this weekend to cooperate on increasing energy efficiency in China's industrial sector, which accounts for 70 percent of the country's energy demand.
Karen Harbert, assistant secretary for policy and international affairs of the US Department of Energy (DOE), and Chen Deming, vice-minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, signed the agreement at a meeting in San Francisco, the China News Service reported.
The MOU followed discussions this week at the third China-US Energy Policy Dialogue, where the two sides agreed to jointly conduct audits to increase national, regional and local energy efficiency. Teams from each country will conduct joint audits of as many as 12 facilities from "The Top 1,000 Energy Enterprises in China".
"This agreement signifies the importance of our strategic energy and economic cooperation with China," Harbert was quoted as saying.
"As global energy use continues to rapidly increase, the US is working to identify ways to increase industrial energy efficiency both domestically and across the globe."
Harbert said the MOU could serve as a conduit for American companies to export environment-friendly US-made equipment and services to China.
"Our US industry has significant expertise and products that can improve energy efficiency in China," she said.
The MOU signifies the intention of the two governments to promote energy efficiency in energy-intensive factories, which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the two officials said.
The DOE will provide tools to conduct the plant audits and train factory personnel on plant auditing techniques.
The DOE will then conduct a comparison study of these Chinese enterprises and US manufacturing plants to identify differences in best practices.
The DOE intends to host training sessions in the United States to familiarize Chinese officials with US laws, policies, procedures and technologies and best practices involving energy use. Demonstrations of efficient US-made boilers, fired heaters and combined heat and power units will be part of the training.
The signing of the MOU is the latest addition to a series of bilateral and multilateral partnerships aimed at increasing energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and removing barriers to private investment in clean energy technologies.
These partnerships include the US-China Strategic Economic Dialogue, the US-China Oil and Gas Industry Forum, the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum and the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor.
The DOE does similar energy audits at home, working with US businesses through a program called Save Energy Now Assessments to assess energy use and devise strategies for savings.
Since 2006, DOE officials said, the agency has conducted 344 industrial energy assessments, identifying potential energy cost savings of more than $585 million per year. The DOE said that when these improvements are fully implemented, the greenhouse gas emissions savings will be equivalent to removing nearly 850,000 vehicles from the road each year.