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By Julian Wong Jul.31.2010
In: coal, collaboration, innovation
1 comment

China's Innovation Model and its Role in the Global Clean Energy Market

This is slightly dated by now but I want to be sure this is posted for posterity’s sake.  In mid-May I participated in a panel discussion at the China Environment Forum at the Wilson Center here in Washington, DC.   The topic of discussion was “Decarbonizing King Coal: Growing U.S.-China Clean Technology Cooperation”, and my fellow panelists Ming Sun of Clean Air Task Force (pictured right) and Albert Lin representing Future Fuels, LLC (pictured left) had very interesting perspectives on the role of “clean coal” in China’s energy future.  (And that’s me in the center of the pic.) The focus of my presentation was to provide a more macro look at China’s innovation capacity in clean energy technologies.  The whole sessions can be accessed at this archived webcast.

For the convenience of readers, I am pasting my presentation outline (as prepared, but not necessarily delivered) here: Read the full story

Radio Interview on China balancing both shades of Green

I was on Worldfocus radio last night with Rashid Kang of Greenpeace China for a general discussion moderated by Martin Savidge on China’s ambitions to green its economy (the other shade of green).  Listen here:

Rashid and I explored the following issues:

  • how China is greening rapidly and developing many alternative energy programs — from the world’s most efficient coal power plants to vast wind power fields and solar water heating technology
  • implications of China’s growing automobile market
  • why nuclear power could be the wrong alternative energy solution for China
  • how food security affects China’s alternative energy strategy
  • what is potentially, as I called it, “the holy grail of renewables” — energy storage
  • and, why there are no climate change skeptics in China, but why China can’t go green overnight

Lesson to budding radio interviewees…always be cognizant of Read the full story

By Julian Wong Nov.22.2009
In: climate change, collaboration

Announcements of U.S.-China Cooperation Create a Path to Copenhagen Success

More perspectives on the announcements coming out of Beijing, this time focusing on the implications on Copenhagen.  Co-written with my colleague Andrew Light and originally published here.

The United States and China announced on Tuesday a package of cooperative agreements  on clean energy and climate change that are remarkable in both breadth and ambition (see previous post “Obama and Hu announce comprehensive strategy for clean energy and climate change collaboration“). The cluster of seven initiatives, partnerships, action plans, and research centers covers a range of low-carbon energy strategies from electric cars to energy efficiency technologies.

These agreements follow on the heels of last Sunday’s announcement at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting that the United States has embraced the Danish proposal for finalizing an interim international climate agreement in Copenhagen in December. The U.S.-China summit help further signal a positive shift in expectations for Copenhagen between the two countries responsible for 40 percent of the planet’s anthropogenic carbon emissions.

Perhaps the most important, and most overlooked, achievement at this week’s summit was the commitment to promote greater transparency on efforts to reduce emissions. This should increase confidence for the prospects of creating a robust international agreement on climate change.

Transparency, accountability, and verification

It is now clear that China is signaling its increasing willingness to meet the standards of transparency, accountability, and verification that will Read the full story

Obama and Hu announce comprehensive strategy for clean energy and climate change collaboration

As expected, the U.S.-China presidential summit in Beijing yielded an agreement on clean energy and climate change that focused on collaboration rather than emissions target setting (see my comments in and China Daily).  Here’s a run-down on what this cooperation entails, in a piece published simultaneously at Climate Progress with my colleague Andrew Light.

“Very exciting day here in Beijing.  There’s enormous interest in both governments in working together to fight climate change. The package announced today is far-reaching and can make a real difference in cutting emissions.” - David Sandalow, Assistant Secretary of Energy for Policy and International Affairs

Today, a comprehensive plan for U.S.-China cooperation on clean energy and climate change was announced in Beijing by President Barack Obama and President Hu Jintao. The overall plan is much more ambitious in scope and depth than we had anticipated and contains directives to create various institutions and programs addressing a wide array of cooperation on clean-energy technologies and capacity building, including very important efforts on helping China build a robust, transparent and accurate inventory of their greenhouse gas emissions.

These efforts include cooperation in the following areas:

1.  Greenhouse Gas Inventory.  A memorandum of cooperation between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and China’s National Development and Reform Commission sets out avenues for collaboration on capacity building in climate change, with an initial focus on helping China to develop a robust, transparent and accurate greenhouse gas emissions inventory.

2. Joint Clean Energy Research Center. Originally announced this July, more details were provided on the joint center that will “facilitate joint research and development of clean energy technologies by teams of scientists and engineers from the United States and China, as well as serve as a clearinghouse to help researchers in each country.”  Financial support from public and private sources of at least $150 million over five years, split evenly between the two countries, will be provided.  The Center’s research will initially focus on building energy efficiency, clean coal including carbon capture and storage, and clean vehicles. (Factsheet)

3.  Electric Vehicles. Those initiative will “include joint standards development, demon Read the full story

By Julian Wong Aug.22.2009
In: climate change, collaboration, energy efficiency

TV Interview on "Foreign Exchange" with Daljit Dhaliwal

Here’s a 7 minute television interview I did with the US television foreign policy program “Foreign Affairs”, discussing China’s clean energy policies.   If you based in the U.S., it may not be too late to catch this on the TV (check schedule).

(p.s. not sure what the first visual on “a new direction for Hong Kong” means!)

Watch 606 – Julian Wong in News |  View More Free Videos Online at

I suspect there may be some questions regarding my remarks about Read the full story

By Julian Wong Jun.12.2009
In: collaboration, governance, information strategies

Senate Foreign Relations Hearing: China will not accept caps, but must be pushed to MRV

Last Thursday (June 4), the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations conducted a hearing with the self-explanatory title of “Challenges and Opportunities for U.S.-China Cooperation in Climate Change.”  An all-star trio of China hands provided testimony: Kenneth Lieberthal of University of Michigan and visiting fellow at Brookings Institution, Elizabeth Economy of Council on Foreign Relations and Bill Chandler of the Carnegie Endowment of International Peace.  Although actual testimony (except perhaps Lieberthal’s) did not track the prepared testimonies that are accessible in the preceding links, they are all well researched and reasoned and worth the read. [Update: Video of actual testimony available here]

Senator John Kerry, the chair of the Committee, set the context for the session in his opening statement:

Last week, I visited China to assess where the country currently stands on climate and energy issues, and to explore opportunities for cooperation going forward. I met with top Chinese political leaders, energy executives, scientists, students, and environmentalists. What I heard and saw was enormously encouraging. Chinese decision-makers insisted to me repeatedly that China now grasps the urgency of this problem. People who, a few short years ago, weren’t even willing to entertain this discussion, are now unequivocal: China is eager to embrace low-carbon  development pathways and is ready to be a positive, constructive player in negotiations going forward.

The question is how.

How can we believe you?

Rather than provide a thorough summary of the proceedings, I will focus on what I thought was the key message that lays at the core of Economy’s testimony, but was also touched upon by Lieberthal and Chandler-the need for measurable, reportable and verifiable (MRV) actions (<–very helpful WRI report, btw), as called for in the Bali Action Plan.  In Economy’s words, MRV is “the very building blocks of an effective domestic climate program for China as well as China’s commitment to a robust international [climate] regime.”

But Lieberthal was realistic about what China could commit to in Copenhagen, saying: Read the full story

By Julian Wong Jun.8.2009
In: climate change, collaboration

Todd Stern: No tradeoff between economy and environment - China must do both

U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern delivered a speech on Wednesday (June 3) on the relationship of China and the U.S. and what both must do together as we head into a crucial period of bilateral and multilateral meetings on climate change.

Click here for video of speech.

Click here for full transcript of speech.

The basic message of Stern’s speech was this: “Thus, the impression that China refuses to take action is both inaccurate and unfair. Yet China can and will need to do much more if we are to have any hope of containing climate change.”

Stern was clear to reassure China that his call for China to take action was not an underhanded tactic of trying to suppress China’s economic development:

What China can do – and many in Chinese leadership clearly recognize this – is not to stop growing, but to grow smarter. The only way China will meet its development needs in the long run is to a) rebalance its economy away from polluting industry towards job-creating services, b) increase the efficiency with which industry and buildings consume energy and c) find alternatives to coal or ways to use it cleanly. In short, it is not a tradeoff between economic growth and environmental protection. China must do both.

The United States for it own part has its work cut out, concluded Stern: Read the full story

China's Climate Progress by the Numbers

A common refrain from climate action naysayers is that, “China is building two coal-fired power plants a week!” They insist that the United States should wait until this major emitter takes on binding commitments to climate change mitigation before it decides to adopt global warming pollution reduction policies in the American Climate and Energy Security Act (H.R. 2454). They further claim that if such a bill became law, the United States would be transferring its jobs to countries such as China and India that are doing nothing to curb emissions. But that thinking is exactly wrong.

Critics fairly point to the fact that 80 percent of China’s power is derived from dirty coal, and that China recently surpassed the United States as the word’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide. Yet China’s per capita emissions remain a fifth that of the United States, and its historical cumulative per capita emissions from 1960 to 2005 are less than one-tenth that of the United States.

Still, the Chinese have recognized that it’s climate inaction—not climate legislation—that will lead to its own economic undoing. As the U.S. Congress debates the merits of enacting renewable electricity and energy efficiency standards, China has already forged ahead with building its own low-carbon economy, laying the foundation for clean-energy jobs and innovation.

China ranked second in the world in 2007 in terms of the absolute dollar amount invested in renewable energy, according to the Climate Group. It spent $12 billion, which put it just behind Germany’s $14 billion. These investments have placed China among the world leaders in solar, wind, electric vehicle, rail, and grid technologies. And now approximately 9 percent of China’s $586 billion economic stimulus package will go toward sustainable development (excluding rail and grid) projects.

China is expected to unveil in the coming weeks another extensive and unprecedented stimulus package—reported to be in the range of $440 billion to $660 billion—dedicated solely to new energy development over the next decade, including generous investments in wind, solar, and hydropower. If those expectations are fulfilled, China could emerge as the unquestioned global leader in clean-energy production, significantly increasing its chances to wean its energy appetite off coal, and at the same time ushering in an era of sustainable economic growth by exporting these clean-energy technologies to the world.

The bottom line: China is not there yet, but it is beginning to transition to a clean-energy economy through a wide range of actions. The United States should recognize China’s efforts and encourage China to expand upon them. We have sketched this claim before, but let’s run though the numbers in more detail. Read the full story

By Julian Wong May.30.2009
In: climate change, collaboration, oil
1 comment

U.S.-China: Cooperate we must, but please, no G2!

“This climate change crisis is a game-changer in U.S.-China relations…an opportunity that cannot be missed”

- Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House Speaker, May 26, 2009 in Beijing.

The nomination of Jon Huntsman, currently the governor of the state of Utah, as the U.S. ambassador to China brings back into focus the role of clean energy cooperation in the furthering of U.S.-China relations.  The choice of Gov. Huntsman has been lauded for various reasons-his fluency in Chinese, his track record as an Asian diplomat, the bipartisanship on the part of President Obama in nominating a Republican for the position (although some say he did so to take Gov. Huntsman, a likely Republican contender for the 2012 elections, out of contention)-but receiving less attention is the fact that Gov. Huntsman is a vocal advocate of the clean energy economy and the greenest governor that Utah as ever had (see youtube video interview).

The siren calls for US-China collaboration on clean energy and climate change action have been sounding nonstop ever since a new sheriff took over in Washington, D.C.  Such exhortations are well grounded in the similarities of the two countries’ energy profiles.  China and the U.S. are the  two largest emitters of greenhouse gases (GHG) in absolute terms on annual basis, both are heavily reliant coal for power and imported petroleum for transportation fuel and other non-transportation uses and both have had (and continue) to build continental-wide energy infrastructure to support a large population.  Various groups, such as Brookings Institution, Asia Society and Pew Center, Natural Rersources Defense Council, and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace have recently published reports providing policy recommendations for clean energy cooperation to form the basis of a momentous new chapter in U.S.-China diplomacy.

But Elizabeth Economy and Adam Segal warn in a recent piece titled “The G2 Mirage” in Foreign Affairs (subscription required) that  we are only setting ourselves up for failure we we think that the U.S. and China are the only players in the game: Read the full story

Green Hops: New Renewable Energy Targets, More Carbon Tax Chatter, Singapore-Nanjing Eco-city Announced

China’s energy intensity was down 2.9% in the first quarter of this year, reports the National Bureau of Statistics.  The decrease is based on a 6.1% growth in GDP measured against a 3.04% increase in energy consumption.  So remember this–despite and increased movement towards “decoupling”, energy consumption still rises as long as GDP rises.  Power consumption in the first quarter also dipped (by 4%), but the decrease in March (2%) was less than in January an Februrary (5.2%), suggesting that the economy may be starting to bottom out.

Fuels from Heaven

  • Wind to hit 100 to 150 GW by 2020
  • Solar to hit 10 to 20 GW by 2020
  • Renewable power to constitute 40% of electricty geneation by 2050

Wind targets to triple, may even quintiple! Anticipation is building up for the soon to be announced stimulus for renewable energy.  Analysts have their eyes peeled for the possibility of a revision in China’s long term renewable energy targets.  For wind and solar power, this stands at 30 GW and 1.8 GW, respectively.  But at current rates of development, 100 GW of wind by 2020 is probably achievable, and indications are 100 GW will be the new 2020 target.  Installed wind capacity is expected to grow 64% this year to hit 20 GW.  If China adds 8 GW a year from now till 2020, 100 GW will be surpassed, leading this report to speculate that the 2020 target may be raised to as much as 150 GW.

Northern central China will be the destination of many wind farms.  Meanwhile, Tianjin may be manufacturing hub that helps China’s wind industry lead that charge towards triple digit gigawattage as it boasts what is shaping up to be the world’s leading wind manufacturing industry cluster.  Vestas, which has a manufacturing presence in Tianjin, has launched a turbine model specifically for Chinese wind conditions.  The Danish company has begun sales of its V60-850 kW turbine, which has blade designs and temperature control systems to adapt to the tough winters in Inner Mongolia. The turbine is most effective in low and medium winds, which make up 75 percent of China’s unutilized onshore wind potential.

Solar to hit 20 GW by 2020?! As for solar, recent solar policy developments may have set China on course for 10 GW, or even 20 GW by 2020, remarks Wang Zhongying, assistant director at the NDRC’s Energy Research Institute and head of its Renewable Energy Development Centre.   As projected in my recent solar policy paper, polysilicon production is ramping up domestically.  This means lower PV panels prices and a steady march towards grid parity.

40% Renewable Electricity Standard by 2050? This was only mentioned in passing, and I have not seen this anywhere else, but it seems that 40% may be set as a long term target (i.e. 2050) for the proportion of renewable sources making up total electricity generation.  Sounds encouraging, but far off the 60+% that the Tyndall Center sees as necessary to stabilize the climate (see previous post). Read the full story