New Alliance Report: “China’s Green Race to Power”

Alliance to Wind Down Dec. 31

Check out our latest (and final) report on China’s giant green leap forward and a history of the Alliance. Executive Director Marjorie Sun interviewed with more than a dozen experts and gathered info from many reports.

Five takeaways from the 20-page report, “China’s Green Race to Power”:

  • Power blackouts in Jiangsu province led to the birth of the Alliance.
  • China’s leaders are committed to clean tech industries in solar, wind and electric vehicles as a catalyst for jobs,  economic growth, energy independence and a healthier planet.
  • Government subsidies have been absolutely crucial to the remarkable growth of China’s green manufacturing sectors.
  • China plans to spend a trillion dollars in overseas investments to build infrastructure including power plants. These plans warrant close scrutiny for their potential impact on carbon emissions.
  • China’s success in solar, wind and EVs is good for the global market, dropping prices for all these technologies and accelerating deployment. Their success in scaling up holds lessons for the world.
  • Bonus: it’s pretty easy to rent an all-electric car in China. Check out one of the photo captions.

This report is the final project for the Alliance. The Alliance board has determined that we’ve accomplished our original mission–to educate Chinese utilities on the value of energy efficiency. Since the Alliance was founded in 2005, many major U.S. environmental organizations have established offices in China. So the Alliance will be dissolving as of Dec. 31. We are deeply grateful for your support, expertise and interest in helping to make the Alliance a success.

Grid Panel: Microgrids, Renewables Are Key

L to R: Delphine Hou, CAISO, Sarah Scafidi, Cadmus, Erik Takayesu, SCE, Marjorie Sun, China-US Energy Innovation Alliance, Jana Ganion, Chris Benjamin, PGE, He Jianzong, Dongguan Power Bureau, Wei Feng, LBNL, Cameron Briggs, Origin, Lexon Li, Altec.

Eight experts from China, Australia, and the U.S. were on our terrific panel on “Grid Resilience: How Do We Strengthen It?” on Sept. 14 in San Francisco. For a recording of the panel, click here. Downloadable to your phone or computer!

Among the panel takeaways:

  • Check out efforts in China to build grid resilience. He Jianzong has invented a laser to zap mylar balloons that can cause  outages when they hit power lines. Really.
  • Increasing microgrids and renewables are keys to enhancing grid resilience.
  • What’s a duck curve and why is it important? (Hint: Listen to Delphine Hou’s presentation.)
  • Looking for a model of microgrid resilience? See what Sendai, Japan has done. Its microgrid  has helped Fukushima recover from the tsunami and its nuclear disaster, according to Wei Feng.
  • Jana Ganion has led innovative microgrid development at Blue Lake Rancheria in northern California.

The panelists were:
China Southern Grid. HE Jianzong, Deputy Director, Dongguan Power of Guangdong Power, a subsidiary of China Southern Grid.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Dr. Wei FENG of LBNL’s China Energy Group. Expert on smart grid and microgrids in China and U.S.
–Origin, Inc., Australia’s largest energy provider and longtime partner in Chinese power projects. Cameron Briggs. Head of Future Energy.
Jana Ganion. Sustainability and Government Affairs Director, Blue Lake Rancheria, California, a federally recognized tribal government.
Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E). Chris Benjamin. Director of Corporate Sustainability.
Southern California Edison (SCE). Erik Takayesu. Managing Director of Integrated Innovation and Modernization.
California Independent System Operator (CAISO). Delphine Hou. Manager, State Regulatory Affairs.
Cadmus Group. Sarah Scafidi. Head of business resilience practice.
William Kissinger. Panel moderator. Partner at Morgan Lewis, who focuses on energy and environmental issues.

More than 70 attended the event. The panel was organized in partnership with the Global Climate Action Summit.

Many thanks to our event partners, Morgan Lewis for hosting, the Energy Cooperation Program in Beijing, and Altec. We are deeply grateful to our financial corporate sponsors, PG&E, SCE, and Honeywell.

 

 

Guess How Many Coal Workers China Retrained?

Renewables = New Jobs in China
China has retrained an extraordinary number of coal workers to work in the renewables sector. Wind turbines in China. Photo by Envision, Inc.

10,000? 50,000? 100,000? How about 530,000! And that extraordinary effort occurred in 2016 alone, according to a new report by China Coal Research Institute. Fuqiang Wang, senior advisor on climate and energy at NRDC Beijing, is part of the report’s expert team.

Most of the Chinese coal workers were retrained with jobs in the renewable energy sector and the effort is going. “New jobs in the renewable sector are at least twice higher than the jobs lost in the coal sector,” Wang told the Alliance.

According to the latest stats, the renewable energy sector in China employed 3.64 million in 2017. In the U.S., renewables accounted for 777,000 jobs. In both countries, jobs renewables are booming. “Explosive” is how an article in Inside Climate News characterized employment in renewables in the U.S. in recent years.

The number of coal miners in the U.S. now totals around 53,000, down from a high of about 90,000 in 2012, according to the latest figures from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The U.S. could take a cue from China on retraining their coal workers, all 530,000 of them.

Our New Strategic Partner: ECP

 ECP logo newThe Alliance is honored and delighted to announce a new strategic partner, the US-China Energy Cooperation Program, which is based in Beijing. Known as ECP, the program promotes collaboration between the two countries’ governments and the private sector to advance a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable environment. ECP is an affiliate of the American Chamber of Commerce in China. Its members include Fortune 500 companies and it partners with a wide range of Chinese and U.S. government agencies. ECP promotes bilateral cooperation on energy issues related to clean energy, trade, energy efficiency and green financing. For more info on ECP, click here.

China’s Coal at Home and Now Abroad

In China, what are the risks of a rise of 1.5 degree C and how can low carbon solutions be accelerated? These will be the key issues of a day-long conference on May 30 in Beijing. NRDC, the Natural Resources Defense Council, is organizing the meeting. Top Chinese government and academic researchers are among the speakers.

In the past, China was said to have built a coal-fired power plant every day. But those days are over. Last year, China built 25 GW of new coal-fired power capacity. That’s half of what it used to be. China’s coal production inched up by 0.4 percent last year. Demand for energy was strong mainly because the economy improved and exports boomed, according to a China energy expert in an interview earlier this month in Beijing. Among the big problems that remain is the widespread use of distributed coal.

How can China cut its coal use? China is now the world leader in installed capacity of solar and wind energy and has plans to install even more. But curtailment is still a big problem. Solving curtailment would mean China’s coal use would actually decrease, the expert said.

China has been enormously successful in implementing energy efficiency measures. By saving energy, China has slashed its energy demand by 10 to 15 percent. With such success, it will be harder in the future for China to find ways to improve energy efficiency,  the expert said.

Meanwhile, a major concern now is to what degree China is incorporating sustainability in its construction of huge infrastructure projects overseas as part of its One Belt One Road initiative, now in its fifth year. Chinese sponsored projects account for most of the new coal fired power plants being built overseas, according to an article in the New York Times last year. A policy researcher at a Chinese research institute in Beijing said in an interview that his group is working to integrate renewables into the OBOR initiative. Without these and other sustainable measures, China’s infrastructure projects overseas will undercut the gains domestically in cutting carbon emissions.

 

2017 Bright Year for Solar

The U.S. solar industry reported this month double digit growth for U.S. solar installations in 2016 and 2017. That’s great news! At the end of 2017, U.S. capacity totaled 53.3 GW.
But let’s put this in perspective. That’s less than half of China’s current installed capacity, which is more than 130 GW. China domestically installed 53 GW last year alone. Yup, that’s almost the same as total U.S. capacity. This BNEF article lays out the reasons behind–in its words–China’s “runaway” growth in solar installations.

In the U.S., the solar and wind industries account for way more jobs than the fossil fuels sector. Here are the most recent figures from the Department of Energy’s 2017 Energy and Employment Report.

The question for the U.S. now is how much the Trump Administration’s tariffs on Chinese-made solar panels will hurt the growth of solar installations and job growth here. Solar companies in Massachusetts this year have already blamed significant job losses in part on the Trump Administration’s tariffs because they’ve created financial uncertainty.

New Name, Logo, Website!

Welcome to the China-U.S. Energy Innovation Alliance! Our new name reflects the broader mission we adopted last fall: to accelerate clean energy innovation. Why?  Because clean energy promotes economic growth, energy security and a healthier planet.

Our strategy is to bring together energy leaders who wouldn’t normally come together to share common problems and best practices to speed up solutions.

Our new name, mission and logo reflect the monumental changes in clean energy since the original organization–the China-U.S. Energy Efficiency Alliance–was established in 2005. In less than a decade, China has leapfrogged to become world leaders in the manufacturing and installation of solar and wind power. On top of that, China has  already zoomed ahead of the U.S. in producing electric vehicles.

We’re still committed to promoting energy efficiency, there’s no doubt.  But new technology and other innovations, including green financing, are creating profound, exciting solutions too.

Now energy leaders in both countries can learn much from each other. As global carbon pollution rises to ever more dangerous levels, the need to scale up smart energy solutions is urgent.

The Alliance is enthusiastic to broker and drive these discussions. We’re convinced that together with energy leaders in the public and private sectors in China and the U.S., we can do more. We are determined to fast forward energy innovation. Join us!

We welcome your feedback on our changes. Contact us at info@cuseialliance.org.

China’s First Steps in Nationwide Emissions Trading

China is poised to announce a national carbon emissions trading system this week. The start of the program is likely to be far less ambitious than originally hoped for. Nevertheless its overarching goal remains admirable.

China likely won’t address many details yet, experts in China and the U.S. say. There are issues of monitoring, reporting, and verification. The program still needs baseline data. And the Chinese are unlikely to say much about the regulatory requirements or what sectors will be covered. There’s a decent chance that the trading scheme will cover the power sector.

It’s not surprising that China is not yet ready to launch a full-scale program. As a point of reference, California took several years to launch its own cap and trade program. China’s program will be much larger than California’s. Just four years ago, China launched seven pilot programs in emissions trading in various locations across the nation. At the same time, it set an extremely ambitious target to kick off a national program this year.

Experts say to watch the process in which China incrementally builds up its emissions trading program to a national scale. The irony is that China is seizing the initiative to construct a national emissions trading program using capital markets. That’s the farthest thing from the Trump Administration, which instead is hell bent to promote the coal industry and withdraw from the Paris accord.

Chivas Lam Joins the Alliance Board

Lam, who is based in Shanghai, was previously a venture partner at a $2.7B firm, Qiming Ventures, where he focused on clean energy investments. Qiming, headquartered in Shanghai, was founded by American Gary Rieschel.