China and the United States — the world’s top emitters of greenhouse gases — should be at the forefront of clean energy solutions for an ailing planet.
That’s the bold vision of the U.S.-China Green Tech Summit, a gathering that drew more than 400 green technology executives, venture capitalists, academics and others to Beijing last fall. The event sought to jumpstart partnerships in China and the U.S. on an array of energy efficient and renewable energy projects. Combating climate change, generating clean energy jobs and fostering energy independence are among the summit’s goals.
Cal alumnus Mart Bailey B.A. Chinese Studies 1991 founded the summit in 2008. The Graduate Division was among this year’s organizers, and green tech experts from UC Berkeley and the Bay Area were a major presence at the November 16-17 event.
UC Berkeley professor and acclaimed energy and resources scientist Dan Kammen chaired a discussion about “smart grids” that vastly improve the delivery of electricity. Blake Simmons, a scientist from the Emeryville-based Joint BioEnergy Institute, described work on a new generation of biofuels.
Other talks explored utility-scale solar power installations, low-carbon building projects including the 200-acre West Village under construction at UC Davis, clean coal technology and its viability, and electric vehicles and battery technology.
“The event takes an action-oriented approach,” says Bailey, a China expert who serves on the board of the campus’s Berkeley China Initiative.
“We’re playing for planet Earth,” he says. “It’s absolutely imperative that we accelerate the deployment of energy efficient and renewable energy technologies in both countries.”
The student-led Berkeley Energy & Resources Collaborative (BERC) served as a summit partner. Thanks to a grant from BMW Group DesignworksUSA, a Berkeley Law student active in BERC was able to attend.
Green technology partnerships between the U.S. and China are already underway. At the summit, China-based Suntech Power announced plans to locate its first U.S. solar panel manufacturing plant in Arizona. Meanwhile, First Solar, a U.S. firm, recently signed an agreement to build a massive photovoltaic power plant in the Mongolian desert.
“The energy around the event was kind of electric,” says Bailey. A third summit is planned for Shanghai later this year.