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Small Step: U.S.-China Agree on Clean-Energy Research Center

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china_windThe transformation to a globally green and sustainable mindset eventually will happen if enough small steps are taken.

With that perspective in mind the agreement between United States and China to establish a jointly owned clean energy research center fits, or let’s hope so. The agreement between the planet’s two most prolific polluters involves an investment of only $30 million, but maybe it’s a precursor of more to come.

Under the memorandum of understanding signed recently by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Chinese Minister of Science Wan Gang, and Administrator of National Energy Administration Zhang Guo Bao, each nation will contribute $15 million to set up the research facility, which will have headquarter sites in each country.

According to the DOE the center will “facilitate joint research and development on clean energy by teams of scientists and engineers from the U.S. and China, as well as serve as a clearinghouse to help researchers in each country.” The “priority topics” will initially include energy efficiency, clean-coal including carbon capture and storage, and clean vehicles.

“Working together, we can accomplish more than acting alone,” Chu said.

Facility locations haven’t been determined. The department says the objective is for initial operations to begin by year-end.

A fact sheet distributed by DOE says collaboration “on science and technology (S&T) has long been a cornerstone of overall U.S.-China cooperation.” The first agreement between the two countries after relations were normalized in 1979 was on S&T cooperation.

DOE currently manages 12 agreements with China under that S&T framework on a variety of energy, sciences and technologies including: building and industrial energy efficiency, clean vehicles, renewable energy, nuclear energy and science, and biological and environmental research.

Opportunities abound for U.S.-China cooperation on clean-energy technologies. It makes sense, and maybe eventually cents, to start somewhere.

In the world of diplomacy just getting to this point qualifies as significant. But in the real-world climate-change battle the follow-through is what we should watch, and especially whether the research center is sidetrtacked by the ‘clean-coal’ delusion.

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Written by William DiBenedetto

28 July, 2009 at 11:10 am

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