Foreign and Military Affairs

Golden opportunities for China-US co-op in clean energy

Updated: 2011-01-19 10:48
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WASHINGTON - As the world's largest developing and developed economies, China and the United States have an unprecedented opportunity to push forward cooperation in clean energy, with both facing challenges of securing energy sustainability and promoting environmental protection.

High-ranking officials from both sides have stressed the importance of as well as huge room for bilateral cooperation in clean energy and bio-technology, among other areas.

Meeting with US Secretary of Energy Steven Chu in Beijing in November, Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang noted that the two sides had broad agreement and common interests in maintaining energy security and promoting clean energy development.

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Li said the fast growth of China's new energy industry provided great opportunities for foreign companies.

Chu said the US was equally committed to moving toward a sustainable energy future, and business investment in clean energy was welcomed in the US as it could create new jobs.

A latest report released by the Washington-based Pew Environment Group said global clean energy investment surged by 230 percent from 2005 to 2009, totalling $162 billion , despite the global economic slowdown, and that China and the US rank first and second in leading global clean energy financing and investments.

"Even in the midst of a global recession, the clean energy market has experienced impressive growth. Countries are jockeying for leadership. They know that investing in clean energy can renew manufacturing bases, and create export opportunities, jobs and businesses," said Phyllis Cuttino, director of the Pew Climate and Energy Project.

Specifically, should G-20 countries implement policies that maximize clean energy capacity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cumulative private investment in renewable energy assets is projected to total $2.3 trillion over the next 10 years, the report estimates.

With bilateral interests "incredibly aligned," experts say, the two nations could further tap the rapidly growing industry with technology sharing, and through joint efforts to promote research and development, create reciprocal trade opportunities and give full play to each other's competitive advantages.

"In fact, many of these efforts are already under way. In 2009, two governments signed a series of cooperative agreements on clean energy cooperation on research, electric vehicles, energy efficiency, carbon capture and storage. A number of US companies, including General Electric, have established bases of operation in China to pursue mutually-rewarding projects. Similarly, a number of Chinese companies, like Suntech, have developed operations in America," Cuttino said.

Analysts say bilateral cooperation in clean energy could serve as a role model for strengthening links in other economic, investment and technology areas in the coming decades.

The sovereign interests each country has in developing competitive advantages, export opportunities and market shares might make some forms of collaboration difficult, according to Cuttino.

But experts believe that nations can work together for the common good, and clean energy is no exception, with firms in both countries to benefit from the continued and accelerated cooperation in this field.