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U.S., China Partner on Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency

ObamaJintaoPresident Barack Obama and China’s President Hu Jintao have agreed to a wide ranging package of programs and initiatives (seven in total) to strengthen the two countries’ cooperation on renewable energy and energy efficiency. One key program establishes a U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center, supported by $150 million in public and private funds over the next five years, designed to drive joint research and development of clean energy technologies by scientists from both countries.

However, there could be a problem when it comes to the transfer of technology from the U.S. to China, according to the Guardian. Beijing’s wish list includes salt-resistant materials for offshore wind farms, hi-tech components for large wind turbines, smart-grid control systems and more efficient pumps for nuclear reactors, according to the newspaper.

Yang Fuqiang, head of climate solutions at the Worldwide Fund for Nature, told the Guardian there are still questions that need to be answered like how to compensate the private sector and how to remove trade restrictions on items that the U.S. does not want to give to China due to competitive advantage.

The two leaders also unveiled a U.S.-China Electric Vehicles Initiative, which will include developing joint standards, building demonstration projects in more than a dozen cities, creating technical roadmaps, and carrying out public education projects.

The countries will also leverage private sector resources to develop clean energy projects in China through the U.S.-China Energy Cooperation Program (ECP). Collaborative projects will consist of renewable energy, smart grids, clean transportation, green buildings, combined heat and power, energy efficiency, and clean coal.

The two Presidents also announced the launch of a new U.S.-China Renewable Energy Partnership to develop roadmaps for widespread renewable energy deployment in both countries, and an U.S.-China Energy Efficiency Action Plan to improve the energy efficiency of buildings, industrial facilities, and consumer appliances.

However, some observers like Scott Daniels of the Monitor Group, say the announcements don’t go far enough to aggressively develop commercial clean energy power, reports USA Today. The Monitor Group recently released a report, A Roadmap for U.S.-China Collaboration on Carbon Capture and Sequestration.

The two Presidents also pledged to promote cooperation on cleaner uses of coal, under the new 21st Century Coal initiative, including large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration projects, and announced a U.S.-China Shale Gas Resource Initiative to help China assess its shale gas potential.

Looking to gain access to cash, technology and equipment, some U.S. power companies like Duke Energy, AES Corp. and Progress Energy have already sought out their Chinese counterparts, reports the Wall Street Journal. The Clean Air Task Force, a Boston-based environmental group that promotes clean-coal technology, told the WSJ that Chinese companies could help U.S. power producers speed up the rollout of carbon-reduction technologies because they can do it faster and cheaper.

For more information on sustainable investments (SI) in China, Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) has released a new report, Sustainable Investment in China 2009 (PDF), which identifies challenges and provides recommendations to speed up growth in the SI market.

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