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News from the National Academies
Date: Dec. 8, 1999
Contacts: William Kearney, Media Relations Associate
Megan O'Neill, Media Relations Assistant
(202) 334-2138; e-mail <news@nas.edu>

[ EMBARGOED: NOT FOR PUBLIC RELEASE BEFORE 5 P.M. EST WEDNESDAY, DEC. 8 ]

Publication Announcement

Collaboration Between U.S. and China on
Energy R&D Should Be Pursued Vigorously

At a presidential summit in 1997, Chinese and American leaders signed the Energy and Environment Cooperation Initiative, agreeing to work together on energy and environmental research and trade issues. By then, the United States was ranked first and China second in world energy consumption, and together they were responsible for more than a third of the planet's emissions of greenhouse gases. Their decision to collaborate signaled a realization by both governments that changing the way each country produces and consumes energy would have economic and environmental benefits extending beyond the borders of both.

Drawing on the spirit of that agreement, a new report by the National Research Council of the U.S. National Academies and the Chinese Academies of Sciences and Engineering urges both countries to strengthen their collaborative efforts to develop and deploy cleaner and more-efficient energy technologies. The committee that prepared the report was appointed by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, U.S. National Academy of Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Chinese Academy of Engineering.

The U.S.-China committee called for increased and broader avenues of collaboration between both governments and recommended that the U.S. Congress and president authorize three additional American agencies to work in China. The Agency for International Development, the Trade and Development Agency, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation could apply their expertise in market reform and management techniques to the expansion of cleaner energy production in China.

The committee urged officials from both countries to initiate discussions about incentives that would accelerate the use of new clean and efficient energy technologies to make them more commercially competitive. One way to do this could be by demonstrating new technology in China under the "Clean Development Mechanism" guidelines set forth in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. In addition, a joint industry-led group should assess the suitability, or necessary adaptations, of clean-coal technologies for use in China, where unhealthy levels of pollution are caused by burning coal, the main source of energy there.

The report focuses on seven areas:

> Energy efficiency. Collaboration in the research and development of promising, pre-commercial energy-efficiency technologies should be strengthened. There are compelling reasons to promote increased trade between the two countries in energy-efficiency technology at this time, the committee said, including the potential for these technologies to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and cut costs. If barriers to trade can be overcome, ample opportunities should exist for companies in both countries that produce or use energy-efficiency technology.

> Clean coal. Both governments should convene a joint task force to assess how clean-coal technologies developed in the United States can be implemented in China. Currently the market for these technologies is very limited in the United States because numerous utilities rely on cleaner natural gas plants to meet the government's clean-air standards. Many clean-coal technologies have not been given serious consideration in China because they have been designed for industrialized countries with stringent environmental standards, other market conditions, and other types of coal. The committee called for collaboration between China and the United States to adapt clean-coal technologies for practical use in China, and to help create there the institutional and regulatory conditions necessary to attract private-sector investment in these technologies. In return, the United States, and other nations that rely heavily on coal, could gain by observing the environmental benefits of clean-coal technologies in action.

> Natural gas. Policy-makers from both nations should collaborate on a strategy to accelerate the production and use of cleaner-burning natural gas and coal-bed methane in China. In doing so, they need to look for ways to improve China's infrastructure for transporting, distributing, and using natural gas. In addition, China should consider tapping remote sources of natural gas and coal-bed methane to supply power to rural populations, and make further reforms to environmental policy so natural gas can compete better against coal in China's energy marketplace. The capital, technology, and business knowledge needed to increase natural-gas use in China should create new opportunities for American companies, the committee noted.

> Petroleum. With each country becoming more dependent on oil imports, the U.S.-China Oil and Gas Industry Forum and other joint groups should consider a range of technical and institutional options including market restructuring, long-term development strategies, national oil reserves, and alternatives to petroleum-dependent transportation. For example, new opportunities for collaboration could include research and development on fuel cells and battery technologies for cars. The committee also recommended a broader examination of urban transportation systems by government and industry officials from both countries.

> Renewable energy. Chinese and American researchers cooperating on the study of solar, wind, and biomass energy should focus on lowering costs to make these energy sources more attractive. The committee noted that although industrialized nations currently lead in the development of technologies which produce energy from renewable resources, the long-term market for these technologies will largely be in developing countries, a fact that should be reflected in R&D priorities.

> Nuclear energy. Given both countries' heavy dependence on coal, nuclear energy remains an important option for power generation in the future. The committee suggested that risks and costs could be minimized by simplifying and standardizing the design of future nuclear plants. The two countries also should cooperate on the demonstration and public acceptance of long-term options for the storage and disposal of nuclear waste, which is needed for the continued commercial use of nuclear power. The committee endorsed the Peaceful Use of Nuclear Technology agreement signed by China and the United States in 1997, and urged both nations to expand their cooperation on nonproliferation issues.

> Electricity transmission and distribution. China should consider international financing options to expand and improve the performance of its electric power grid. Like the United States, China is exploring the deregulation of electric-power markets, which the committee noted presents a unique opportunity for cooperation between the two countries.

To facilitate overall collaboration, a standing committee representing the science and engineering academies of both countries should be formed to identify opportunities for joint research and deployment of cleaner and more-efficient energy technologies, the report says. A forum should be held to bring together industry, academic, and government participants from each nation.

The report was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Research Council, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Chinese Academy of Engineering. The National Research Council is the principal operating arm of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. National Academy of Engineering. It is a private, nonprofit institution that provides independent advice on science and technology issues under a congressional charter. A committee roster follows.

Read the full text of Cooperation in the Energy Futures of China and the United States for free on the Web, as well as more than 1,800 other publications from the National Academies. Printed copies are available for purchase from the National Academy Press Web site or at the mailing address in the letterhead; tel. (202) 334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242. Reporters may obtain a pre-publication copy from the Office of News and Public Information at the letterhead address (contacts listed above).


NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
CHINESE ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
CHINESE ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING

Committee on Cooperation in the Energy Futures of China and the United States

Richard Balzhiser1 (co-chair)
President Emeritus
Electric Power Research Institute
Palo Alto, Calif.

Lu Yongxiang2,3 (co-chair)
President
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Beijing

Cai Ruixian2
Director
Institute of Engineering Thermophysics
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Beijing

Cao Jinghua (ex officio)
Director
Office of American and Oceanian Affairs
Bureau of International Cooperation
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Beijing

E. Linn Draper1
Chairman
American Electric Power Co. Inc.
Columbus, Ohio

Fan Weitang2
President
China Coal Society
Beijing

Harold K. Forsen1 (ex officio)
Foreign Secretary
National Academy of Engineering, and
Senior Vice President
Bechtel Corp. (retired)
Kirkland, Wash.

Robert Fri
President
National Museum of Natural History/National Museum of Man
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, D.C.

Robert L. Hirsch
Executive Adviser to the President
Advanced Power Technologies Inc.
Washington, D.C.

Hu Jianyi2
Research Institute of Petroleum Exploration and Development
China National Petroleum Corp.
Beijing

John P. Holdren4 (ex officio)
Chair, Committee on International Security and Arms Control
National Academy of Sciences, and
Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy
John F. Kennedy School of Government
Harvard University
Cambridge, Mass.

Mark Levine
Researcher and Head
Environmental Energy Technologies Division
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Berkeley, Calif.

F. Sherwood Rowland4,5 (ex officio)
Foreign Secretary
National Academy of Sciences, and
Professor
Department of Chemistry
University of California
Irvine

Milton Russell
Director
Joint Institute for Energy and Environment
University of Tennessee
Knoxville

Maxine Savitz1
General Manager
Ceramic Components
AlliedSignal Inc.
Torrance, Calif.

Jack Siegel
President
Technology and Markets Group
Energy Resources International Inc.
Washington, D.C.

Wang Yingshi
Research Professor
Institute of Engineering Thermophysics
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Beijing

Yan Luguang2
Chairman
Energy Research Committee
Institute of Electrical Engineering
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Beijing

Yao Fusheng2
Bureau of Machinery Industry
Beijing

Zhao Renkai2,3
Senior Adviser
Commission of Science and Technology
China National Nuclear Corp.
Beijing

Zheng Jianchao3
Honorary President
Electric Power Research Institute of China
Beijing

Zhou Fengqi
Director
Energy Research Institute
State Planning and Development Commission
Beijing

RESEARCH COUNCIL STAFF

Michael Cheetham
Study Director

1 Member, National Academy of Engineering
2 Member, Chinese Academy of Sciences
3 Member, Chinese Academy of Engineering
4 Member, National Academy of Sciences
5 Member, Institute of Medicine
Please note: Chinese names are listed family name first, given name second