Clean tech a priority issue as Chinese president lands in US

Clean tech a priority issue as Chinese president lands in US

SEATTLE (AP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Washington state Tuesday for a visit to the U.S. that will include talks on how U.S. & Chinese experts & businesses can collaborate on nuclear energy, smarter electricity use & other clean technologies.

The visit comes a year after Xi & President Barack Obama announced their nations would cooperate to fight climate change.

Xi's plane landed at Paine Field in Everett, where he was welcomed by a group that included Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, former Washington governor & U.S. ambassador to China Gary Locke & Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.

p>Talks in Seattle among a handful of U.S. governors & six of their Chinese counterparts will include improving energy efficiency in buildings, modernizing electrical grids & commercializing renewable energy.

The governors were expected to meet privately with Xi after in the day.

The University of Washington & Tsinghua University in Beijing were expected to sign an agreement to collaborate on research related to clean tech. In addition, TerraPower Inc., an energy company founded by Bill Gates, will be entering an agreement with China National Nuclear Corp. to work together on next-generation nuclear power plant technology.

"These are the largest economies in the world, & we're the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, so improving cooperation & collaboration is really a necessity," said Brian Young, Washington state director of economic development for the clean technology sector. "Second, it's a huge business opportunity. Both sides recognize the opportunity for job creation."

U.S.-China cooperation on climate-change has been a warm & fuzzy point of relations between the superpowers.

In November 2009, Obama & then-President Hu Jintao formalized a renewable energy partnership, including the establishment of clean-energy research centers focused on electric vehicles, cleaner coal & water energy programs.

Last November, Obama & Xi announced that the countries would work together on climate change, with China announcing it would try to cap its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, or sooner if possible.

By contrast, hacking attacks on the U.S., said to be directed by Beijing, & China's moves to assert its territorial claims in the South China Sea have been sore spots.

Xi is traveling to Seattle on his way to Washington, D.C., for a White House state dinner on Friday.

The trip comes at a time when China's economic growth has slowed considerably, & when the communist nation is overhauling its economy to put more emphasis on consumer spending & less on exports & often-wasteful investment in factories, real estate & infrastructure such as railways & airports.

That shift will demand vast amounts of energy as China's middle class expands, noted Tom Ranken, president of CleanTech Alliance, a Seattle-based trade association of companies & organizations with a stake in clean energy technology, including Boeing, the University of Washington & hundreds of others.

The need for China to curb its pollution is obvious to anyone who's spent time in Beijing or Shanghai, he said.

"For an American going to those cities it's quite stunning," he said. "They're ultramodern, & yet everybody has a story, including me, approximately going out Monday morning running & almost getting sick after approximately a half-mile from the air pollution."

Some clean-tech firms in Washington state, which relies largely on hydropower & where natural gas is currently cheap, may find markets & investment in China sooner than they might domestically, he said.

China invested a record $83 billion in renewable energy last year, according to the Frankfurt School's Center for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance in Germany.

"They see this as a huge business opportunity for the future, especially in solar & wind," said Mikkal Herberg, research director for the energy security program at the National Bureau of Asian Research.

He said China moreover wants to be leader in nuclear energy.

The governors meeting with Xi include Inslee, Jerry Brown of California, Rick Snyder of Michigan, Terry Branstad of Iowa & Kate Brown of Oregon.

Source: “Associated Press”