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1st US-China Green Energy Forum, Beijing, China, November 16-18, 2008
Innovative Energy Solutions: Fueling the Future
This conference represents the first time that leaders in four communities – business, technology, academia, and government policy – from both China and the United States will come together to discuss energy issues of mutual interest. There will be a mix of formal presentations panel discussions and informal discussion opportunities.
Second, its creation of three working groups will foster new collaborations between China and the U.S. in business, academia/R&D, and policy, with great effort place on follow-up activities.
Third, while China’s energy policy makers find themselves challenged to manage exploding energy use and the resulting emissions, California has embarked on a remarkable path of controlling greenhouse gas emissions, largely through energy efficiency and renewable energy. California has policy experience, demonstrated ability to raise large sums of money for new energy technologies, and emerging world leadership in advanced energy R&D, particularly fuels from the sun, all of which are of intense interest to China at this time. China’s leaders have embarked on a program to do much more than in the past to address its own environmental problems. They are beginning to pay close attention to the crucial environmental issues surrounding global warming.
Attendees and Presenters
We expect more than 50 experts from the US and an equal number from China to participate as panelists and keynote speakers over a two-day conference. To accommodate this diversity of participants, we will have three parallel tracks when there is no plenary session.
We anticipate an attendance of 500 by invitation only, including: Chinese central and provincial government officials responsible for energy and environmental policies; scholars, technologists, opinion leaders, educators, and business executives and global investors from California and China involved in energy and greentech.
The conference will lead to the creation of working groups, with participants from interested stakeholders. These working groups will promote dialogue and develop meaningful projects in business, energy policy, R&D, and education.
Themes of the Conference
The conference will address three broad topics, each of intense interest in China and the United States.
- Innovative energy technologies
California is moving rapidly to be the center of R&D to advance green energy technologies, and has made important strides in doing so. The San Francisco Bay Area is the world center for advanced R&D for a new generation of fuels produced from solar energy. The venture capital community in California, especially the high-tech incubator Silicon Valley, is focusing on environmentally friendly energy technologies.
For China, innovative, green energy technologies are seen as a necessity for addressing a range of environmental problems. China is already in the forefront in manufacturing photovoltaic cells and is heading toward a leadership position in the production of wind turbines. Because of its vast markets and policy support for green energy technology, it is possible for China to be the driving force behind new and improved energy technologies coming to market.
Sessions addressing this theme will bring together technology leaders and venture capitalists in both countries to engage in discussions that can lead to new business relations, dialogues on policy to spur green energy, and educational collaborations. Most importantly, we expect the conference and its follow-on activities to contribute substantially to a global race to adopt better energy technologies.
- Energy efficiency
Energy efficiency—and especially efficiency of energy end-use devices—is the least cost and easiest way to achieve environmental improvement. Virtually all government plans these days, including those in China and the United States, place energy efficiency as the first priority of all energy options. Yet, it’s often not as easy as it seems to achieve large energy savings through energy efficiency measures.
China and California have unique perspectives on energy efficiency. For many years (1980-2001) China had the most successful energy efficiency programs in the world, as judged by the decline in energy/GDP ratio. From 2001 to 2006, these programs languished and energy began to grow faster than GDP. Now China is putting great effort into energy efficiency, and considers it the highest energy priority.
California also has highly successful energy efficiency programs, dating back to the mid-1970s. Since then, electricity consumption per capita has been constant in California while growing 70% in the United States as a whole. (The State of California has control over electricity, but has heretofore not had authority to increase efficiency of gasoline use.) Now, California has the most ambitious plan to conserve electricity that it has ever had, with very large investments in electric utility demand-side programs and with a large subsidy for photovoltaic systems. China, meanwhile, is redesigning its power grid to make it more efficient and to favor producers with lower emissions.
Sessions addressing this theme will permit California and China policy makers to discuss strengths and weaknesses of their approaches and ways in which the two groups can learn from each other in topics that are of the highest priority to both governments. It will also highlight examples of energy efficiency technologies to make the discussion concrete.
- Models for China/US business ventures
If energy systems are to change in a major way, it will be up to the private sector to change them. If innovative technologies are to be tested in the market, investment funds must be found to enable them to be tried.
It may be early for many of the new technologies to stand on their own. There are compelling reasons for government to support green energy technologies until they mature. And, as to technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is appropriate that industrialized countries support developing countries in achieving reduction of emissions.
A high-level, thorough discussion is needed between China and the U.S. on these issues. It is important to understand how partnerships in green energy technologies can be formed between private parties in the two countries. It is also essential to understand the barriers to such partnerships, thus identifying appropriate roles for governments.
NOTE: The Beijing Conference will be held immediately after a companion event in Shanghai (November 12-14, 2008). Together the two conferences encourage the development of immediate solutions to pressing energy problems and begin long-term collaboration among green tech policymakers, researchers and businesses in the two countries.