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Happy Year of the Snake!
I have some major catching up to do so let me begin here with a link to my book which the Wilson Center launched on September 24, 2012. (Note: if you want to download the PDF of the book, just right-click and use the Save As option).
More 2012/3 updates to follow in rapid sequence.
Thanks for hanging in there,
Thanks to everyone for their support in 2011 and my best wishes for your health and happiness in 2012!
The U.S./China Clean Energy blog ends the year with close to six thousand views, a level I believe can increase several fold next year following the January 2012 release of Sustaining U.S.-China Cooperation in Clean Energy by the Kissinger Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center (WashDC).
I’ll close out the year by giving you this preview of Cooketop News, my Paper.Li aggregator providing “front-burner” updates about the U.S. Mid-Atlantic connection and “hot” insights on clean energy technology, investment and policy. Okay, I’ll remove tongue from cheek now. More prosaically, Cooketop News will be hitting the Internet airwaves on a regular daily basis (Mon-Fri) starting Monday, January 2nd. A summary of top stories will then be provided each week in a Friday post here on U.S./China Clean Energy along with personal observations about what impact the weeks events are having on ‘U.S.-China sustainability’ trends.
Here is the summary of stories from this week’s trial run:
Monday, December 26, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Friday, December 30, 2011
That’s it for 2011! Enjoy an exhilarating slide into 2012 and I’ll look forward to seeing you on the other side of New Year’s Day. Best wishes for the new year!
Philadelphia enjoys key advantages in the emerging national clean economy, not least due to its linchpin position at the heart of a vibrant clean energy ‘super-corridor’ running from Albany NY and Boston MA down to Washington DC and northern Virginia (see Monday’s post).
Other advantages that Greater Philadelphia enjoys include: (1) its position as #5 top-performing cluster nationally, (2) its participation in a national trajectory of fast-growing, high-quality jobs, (3) its profile of balance with middle-skill, middle-wage ‘green collar’ jobs; (4) its breadth of clean economy segments (air & water purification, lighting, nuclear, mass transit, professional energy services, solar PV, solar thermal, and wind); and (5) its being home to the U.S. Government’s new Energy Innovation Hub (EIH) and Energy Regional Innovation Center (e-RIC) at the Navy Yard — the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster (GPIC) for Building Energy Efficiency.
What’s the basis of the Greater Philadelphia’s #5 ranking nationally in the Brookings’ first-of-a-kind study Sizing the Clean Economy: A Green Jobs Report released in July 2011? There are five strong reasons, each covered with substantive detail, in the following mini-slideshow:
Tomorrow’s post will focus on the breadth of clean energy segments supporting Greater Philadelphia’s position as a leader among U.S. regional clean energy clusters.
If you want to help make a small push for Philadelphia’s emergence as a 21st century clean energy leader, please tweet or Like on Facebook or +1 this on G+, using the sharing tool below. This will help spread the word. Thanks.
Yesterday’s mini-slide show focused on the five principal clusters in the northeast Clean Energy super-corridor:
- Albany -Schenectady-Troy, NY
- Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH
- New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA
- Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD
- Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD,WV
Today’s mini-deck focuses on how the clusters in this super-corridor are creating the right kind of jobs for today’s globally-connected economy:
The findings presented above and in posts throughout the week come from Brookings’ Sizing the Clean Economy: A Green Jobs Report released in July 2011. The PowerPoint slides are courtesy of Mark Muro, Deputy Director of the Metropolitan Policy Program of the Brookings Institution. The video clip is extracted from Philadelphia’s 21st century Clean Energy Opportunity from Regional, National & Global Perspective, a program I organized in cooperation with the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University and the T.C. Chan Center for Building Simulation & Energy Studies on October 11, 2011). I am grateful to Mark Muro and Brookings for permission to share these slides with the readership of U.S./China Clean Energy.
If you want to help push for the emergence of any of these five cluster regions as national and global clean energy leaders, please consider tweeting us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook or +1’ing us on G+, using the sharing tool below. Thanks.
This week, I’ll be providing five mini-slideshows to add context and substantive detail to last week’s post and video clip on Brookings Touts Philadelphia’s Top 5 Strengths in U.S. Clean Economy.
Number 1 in the docket is the Cleantech Mega-Cluster stretching from New England though the southern Mid-Atlantic — with Philadelphia at its center.
The findings for today’s slideshow, as well as those for the remainder of the week, come from Brookings’ Sizing the Clean Economy: A Green Jobs Report released in July 2011. The PowerPoint slides are courtesy of Mark Muro, Deputy Director of the Metropolitan Policy Program of the Brookings Institution. The video clip is extracted from Philadelphia’s 21st century Clean Energy Opportunity from Regional, National & Global Perspective, a program I organized in cooperation with the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University and the T.C. Chan Center for Building Simulation & Energy Studies on October 11, 2011). I am grateful to Mark Muro and Brookings for permission to share these slides with the readership of U.S./China Clean Energy.
If you want to be sure you see this week’s series of posts, please click the “Follow” button on the WordPress toolbar immediately above this blog’s heading and an email will automatically be sent to you as soon as each post appears.
I was asked during the UNEP Symposium in Philadelphia yesterday how I thought shale gas and ‘tight gas’ projects — which are at an early stage of operation in various parts of the world such as the United States, China and Argentina — may affect the development of existing renewable energy sources, such as geothermal, biomass, wind, solar, tidal.
There are different dynamics in advanced economies versus emerging economies as each responds to the shale gas opportunity.
In the advanced economies, the values framework for evaluating shale gas tends to emphasize the environment at the expense of economics. This is the so-called “3 C’s” orientation of carbon and climate change. Under this framework, shale and tight gas are only somewhat less carbon-intensive in comparison with traditional fossil fuel sources and their extraction entails media-ampliflied but not yet proven environmental risks associated with ‘fracking’ et cetera.
In the developing world, the tendency is instead to focus on economic and energy security benefits — the “3 E’s” of economics and energy exploitation. From this viewpoint, the positives of shale gas — a relatively cheap and abundant and lower carbon energy source for a country like China — far outweigh negatives of as yet unproven environmental risk. In any case, under the Chinese framework of development, industrial growth and wealth creation come first, and clean-up from the environmental impacts of fast growth come later.
The hard truth is that these the viewpoints in North America and East Asia should not be so divergent. In a world of finite resources and global pollution, we can ill afford to be seeing different problems and talking past one another. The common denominator and linchpin is long-term energy efficiency . Efficient energy utilization is environmental stewardship at the same time that it is good business and the basis for good economic policy. Efficient and diversified energy utilization promotes jobs, investment and a sustainable environment. Neither the advanced world nor the developing world should be sequencing energy and environmental policy or prioritizing between them. Both the U.S. and China could be pursuing a common approach, based on energy efficiency and designed to yield both economic and environmental benefits simultaneously.
By splitting the difference between the “3 C’s” and the ‘3 E’s” both countries could reframe the challenge as the “3 D’s” of diversified energy sources, dollar-accountability, and developmental sustainability. And by re-framing objectives on a realistic and common basis, strategic efforts such as the U.S.-China Shale Gas Resource Initiative may be able to get better global traction.
In the real world, it’s not shale gas versus renewables. It’s shale gas and renewables balanced together for economic and environmental sustainability.
The following post was co-authored by Shawn Lesser (Watershed Capital Group) and me and appeared initially on the Cleantechies blog:
A number of the cleantech efforts between the United States and China reflect the need for cooperation on issues surrounding climate change and clean energy as it is a major factor in the relations of these two countries. Although there are still issues to resolve in many of the collaborations, it is believed that if the United States and China can continue in their cleantech collaborations, that it will show the world that two major players on the international platform are serious about combating the challenge of climate change, and it will also encourage other countries to create alliances. Through collaboration, the two largest greenhouse gas emitters will be able to create technologies required to combat climate change. Not only that, but tangible benefits will be developed, not just for the United States and China, but the world as a whole.
1) United States – China Ten Year Framework for Cooperation on Energy and Environment was established in 2008, and it “facilitates the exchange of information and best practices to foster innovation and develop solutions to the pressing environment and energy challenges both countries face.” It also led to the creation of “EcoPartnerships” – a way to encourage both United States and Chinese stakeholders to strengthen their commitment to sustainable economic development within the local level.
2) United States – China Clean Energy Research Center (CERC) has its main headquarters in both countries. It will facilitate research and development of technology by a team of leading scientists and engineers in the clean technology industry. The research center receives both private and public funding which is split evenly for each country. The initial research priorities of the United States – China Clean Energy Research Center includes building energy efficiency, clean vehicles, and clean coal, which includes carbon capture and storage. It was founded in 2009 by United States President Barak Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao. The goal of the research center is to “build a foundation of knowledge, technologies, human capabilities, and relationships in mutually beneficial areas that will position the United States and China for a future with very low energy intensity and highly efficient multi-family residential and commercial buildings.”
3) United States – China Energy-Efficient Buildings (CERC-EEB) Action Plan enables the United States and China to work alongside the private sector in an effort to develop energy efficient rating systems and building codes, benchmark industry energy efficiency, provide training to building inspectors as well as energy efficiency auditors at industrial facilities, synchronize test procedures and performance metrics for consumer products that are energy efficient, exchange energy efficient labeling systems best practices, and assemble a new annual United States – China Energy Efficiency Forum. The action plan will be achieved through green building and communities, industrial energy efficiency, consumer products standards, advanced energy efficiency technology, and public and private engagement.
4) United States – China Electric Vehicles (CERC-EV) Initiative builds upon the previous United States – China Electric Vehicle Forum which was held in 2009. The initiative comes from the shared interest in increasing the utilization of electric vehicles to decrease oil dependence and greenhouse gas emissions, while promoting viable economic growth. This initiative includes a joint standard in development, demonstration projects in multiple cities in each country, technical road mapping, as well as projects to provide the public with more information.
5) 21st Century Coal Program (CERC-ACTV) promotes a cleaner use of coal resources, such as large-scale carbon capture and storage projects. The program calls for collaboration between a number of companies in the United States, including General Electric, AES, and Peabody Energy, which will be working with a number of Chinese companies to develop an integrated gasification combined cycle power plants, methane capture, as well as a number of other technologies.
6) China Greentech Initiative was founded in 2008 and has rapidly grown to become the only China-international collaboration platform of 100+ organizations, focused on identifying, developing and promoting green technology solutions in China. CGTI released its first free public deliverable, The China Greentech Report at the World Economic Forum in Dalian, China in 2009. With over 50,000 copies in use, the report is commonly referred to as the ‘primer’ by which to understand China’s greentech markets.
7) United States Alliances in Chinese Cleantech Industry includes the availability of a number of United States cleantech companies to invest into the Chinese cleantech industry. Currently, many companies from the United States are finding opportunities through alliances and cleantech and capital technology transfer investments. This leads to an increase in opportunities to assist cleantech into becoming one of the largest industries on a global platform. There has been much in the way of cross-border collaboration in many cleantech sectors, including solar and wind generation, water technologies, smart grid infrastructures, and electric transportation.
8 ) United States – China Renewable Energy Partnership develops roadmaps for widespread and continual renewable energy research, development and deployment in the United States and China, including renewable energy road mapping, regional deployment solutions, grid modernization, advanced renewable energy technology research and development collaboration in advanced biofuels, wind, and solar technologies, and public-private engagement to promote renewable energy and expand bilateral trade and investment via a new United States – China Renewable Energy Forum held annually. In connection with the U.S.-China Renewable Energy Partnership, another important area of U.S.-China cooperation is the Shale Gas Initiative.
9) United States – China Energy Cooperation Program describes itself as the only non-governmental organization that focuses on the United States – China business development within the clean energy sector. The partnership’s purpose is to “promote commercially viable project development work in clean energy and energy efficiency, and support the sustainable development of the energy sectors in both countries.” It was founded in Beijing in 2009, initiative by the United States commercial sector, and provides a vehicle allowing companies from both countries to work together and pursue clean sector market opportunities, address any trade impediments, and increase sustainable development.
10) Key U.S.-China Regional Cooperation Initiatives. An important layer of ‘connectivity’ in the U.S.-China clean energy business landscape is provided by long-standing, regionally-based cooperative initiatives. Top among these are the U.S.-China Green Energy Council (based in the Bay Area), the U.S.-China Clean Energy Forum (based in Greater Seattle with a Washington DC presence), and the Joint U.S.-China Cooperation on Clean Energy (based in Beijing, Shanghai and Washington DC).
Article by Shawn Lesser & Terry Cooke.
Shawn is president and founder of Atlanta-based Sustainable World Capital, which is focused on fund-raising for private equity cleantech/sustainable funds, as well as private cleantech companies and M&A. He is also a co- founder of the Global Cleantech Cluster Association (GCCA), and can be reached at email@example.com
Terry Cooke is Strategic Advisor for Global Partnerships for the Global Cleantech Cluster Association (GCCA). He is also a 2010 Public Policy Scholar on U.S.-China Clean Energy at the Woodrow Wilson Center and author of the forthcoming Sustaining U.S.-China Clean Energy Cooperation being published by the Kissinger Institute of the Wooldrow Wilson Center. His website is www.terrycooke.com .
A personal note:
The Greater Philadelphia region stands on twin thresholds — as the new national innovation center for research and commercialization of energy efficient buildings in the U.S. and, potentially, as an economic partner to China in this priority sector under that country’s new 12th Five Year Plan (2011-5). What’s the bottom line for the region if it manages to sync with the speed and scale of China’s transformation of its commercial and residential building infrastructure? Delivering for our region the extraordinary levels of foreign direct investment (FDI), high-value exports, and jobs which Chicago secured six weeks ago through Hu Jintao’s visit.
• First, the context: The article below describes the state of play – involving both market opportunity and political risk – for the U.S./China clean energy sector at the time of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to Washington DC in January 2011: Clean Energy: U.S.-China Cooperation and Competition (The full collection is available for download at FPRI )
• Second, the megaphone: The China Business Network is in the final count-down for launching its Green Development Channel. Check out here to see how the site is looking on the launch-pad and how it will help amplify the message about opportunities for clean energy engagement with China once it is launched.
• Third, the springboard: There are some exciting events upcoming in the region this year focusing on China, Tianjin and 21st c. energy opportunity. Events in the early summer (June) and fall (Sept-Oct) will be announced soon. Stay tuned.
• Finally, the moment: As I’ve described fully in my forthcoming book Sustaining U.S.-China Clean Energy Cooperation (Woodrow Wilson Center/Kissinger Institute), the action with China clean energy is now moving from politically-driven Washington D.C. to commercially-driven regional economies – principally, Greater Philadelphia & the Bay Area (for energy-efficient buildings) , Ann Arbor/Detroit (electric vehicles) and West Virginia (clean coal). It’s a good time for Greater Philadelphia — a prime beneficiary of this trend — to focus on this opportunity now that our economy is strengthening. My book provides, hopefully, a clear and straight-forward read — just 120 pages — of the current landscape of U.S./China clean energy cooperation and competition. It gives equal attention to technology developments, investment opportunity/risk, and policy dynamics.
These twin, intertwined strands of opportunity — regionally-based energy innovation connected to global market opportunity through China — are my full focus. My goal is to provide a clear and concise ‘wiring diagram’ of the regional, national and global ‘connection points’ associated with this opportunity. My partners in this effort are The China Business Network, The T.C. Chan Center for Building Simulation & Energy Studies (UPenn/Tsinghua), The Foreign Policy Research Institute, The Greater Philadelphia China Center for Culture & Commerce, Gerson Lehrman Group, Capitol Project Partners, and GC3 Strategy.
I welcome your involvement and support.
Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, is looking for a makeover – a green one. The goal of Philadelphia is to reduce the city’s vulnerability to rising energy costs. As such, its research, development, and investment into the area of cleantech have made it one of the top cities in the United States when it comes to renewable energy and energy efficiency. The current mayor Michael Nutter, in his 2008 inaugural address, pledged to make this city the number one green city in America, and created the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability in that sense.
1) The Navy Yard. The Navy Yard plays a key part in the commitment to turn Philadelphia into the “Greenest City in America.” All buildings in the Navy Yard must register with the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) program. This once eyesore is now being converted into a central location for new green energy jobs and clean energy innovation. Not only that, but in a time of recession, the completion of the Navy Yard will provide new, permanent employment opportunities. For example, a large European home energy efficiency company, Mark Group, is going to be making the Navy Yard one of its homes, and plans to hire over 300 new workers.
2) Philadelphia Eagles Stadium to be Powered with Renewable Energy. Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles, is soon to be the first major sports stadium in the world that will be 100 percent run on on-site renewable energy, including a combination of on-site wind, solar, and dual-fuel generated electricity. Renewable energy conservation company SolarBlue is responsible for installing 80 20-foot-spiral-shaped wind turbines on the top rim of the stadium, as well as 2,500 solar panels along the façade. A 7.6 megawatt on-site dual-fuel cogeneration plant will also be there. More than $30 million will be invested into this project over the next year, which should be complete by September of 2011. It is estimated that these changes will save the Eagles approximately $60 million in energy costs. According to Jeffrey Lurie, team owner and chief executive officer, “This commitment builds upon our comprehensive environmental sustainability program, which includes energy and water conservation, waste reduction, recycling, composting, toxic chemical avoidance and reforestation. It underscores our strong belief that environmentally sensitive policies are consistent with sound business practices.”
3) Increase in Solar Energy Technology. A new solar energy plant is going up by the Navy Yard. It is a project between $8 and $12 million and would provide enough power to 200 homes annually. It was developed from German company Epuron, which has their United States headquarters in Philadelphia. Because of the increase in solar technology, Philadelphia was named a “Solar American City” and was provided with a $200,000 award to assist in the study of how to triple solar energy capacity in plants by 2011.
4) Philadelphia Gas Works Renewable Energy Initiatives. Philadelphia Gas Works, as part of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, has the objective to elevate the total use of renewable energy up to 20 percent of the total energy expenditures of the city. It focuses on the use of solar power mainly. Some of the initiatives include tutorials on the basics of solar power, an industry guidebook on solar power unit installation, inspector training, and three city-wide solar installations at the Navy Yard, Southeast Wastewater Pollution Control Plant, and the Baxter Water Treatment Facility.
5) Green Energy Capital Partner’s Solar Energy Plant. Green Energy Capital Partners, in 2008, created the plans to build the second largest solar energy plant near Green Acres Industrial Park. This project costs around $60million and provides 100 megawatts of energy with 40,000 solar panels. The government has been providing all the financial as well as material support for the project, as it gets several million dollars in incentives to create the facility.
6) Weatherizing Row Houses and Creating Jobs. Philadelphia is improving energy efficiency and lowering unemployment rates at the same time with numerous green projects. One project is educating individuals on weatherization of their homes. The program, run by the Energy Coordinating Agency, wants to provide weatherization for approximately 400,000 low-income row houses. The agency, along with Philadelphia Gas Works is footing the bills which could save individuals 30 to 40 percent on heating bills. Numerous individuals are being trained on weatherization techniques, such as insulation installation, caulking, and sealing.
7) Host of the World Green Energy Symposium. Every year, Philadelphia houses the World Green Energy Symposium. It is a three day event that “demonstrates the power of New Energy by providing a platform for connections, education, information exchange, contracting, and business networking opportunities in the industry.” It is a time where organizations, businesses, government agencies, academia, students, and others from around the globe can connect and focus on clean, green, and renewable energy technologies.
8 ) Philadelphia Recycling Rewards. To promote recycling, the Philadelphia Recycling Rewards Program enables individuals to earn points based on how much an individual recycles. These points can be redeemed for gift cards and certificates, discounts, and so much more. The program is powered by RecycleBank, an organization that works to motivate individuals to engage in various green behaviors by providing point incentives that can be used on groceries, merchandise, and discounts. All individuals need to do is stick a sticker on their recycle bin and it gets scanned, giving individuals rewards!
9) Philadelphia Solar Energy Association. The mission of the Philadelphia Solar Energy Association is simple – “to promote the rapid adoption of solar energy technologies in the Delaware Valley through distinguished guest lecturers, hands on demonstrations, participation in regional and national conferences, and other methods and activities.” They also provide information on the solar incentive programs throughout the state of Pennsylvania.
10) The Provision of Energy Rebates and Tax Credits. To assist businesses and homeowners with energy efficiency, Philadelphia has created a number of energy rebates and tax credits. For example there is the Keystone HELP Energy Efficiency Loan Program, which supports installation of high efficiency air conditioning, heating, insulation, doors, windows, and whole-house improvements by providing a maximum of $35,000 to homeowners whose yearly household income does not exceed $150,000. The Pennsylvania Sunshine Solar Rebate Program offers $2.25.W rebates for solar panels based on the system capacity, and a maximum of $20,000 for space heating or solar thermal water systems. Other rebates include the Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program, Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, and the USDA High Energy Cost Grant Program.
Shawn Lesser is the president and founder of Atlanta-based Sustainable World Capital, which is focused on fund-raising for private equity cleantech/sustainable funds, as well as private cleantech companies and M&A. He is also a co- founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
What are eco-cities in China? Why are so many popping up in China’s second-tier urban locations? What are the main drivers for this trend and what makes a sound eco-city development project or zone? Finally, what opportunities exist for foreign companies? TCBN Green Channel Editor Terry Cooke interviews Piper Stover, strategic advisor of China Dynamics, LLC, on China’s eco-cities initiative.
China policy on eco-cities:
• The 11th 5 Year Plan included goals of lowering energy consumption per unit of GDP, specifically, energy consumption per unit of GDP should have decreased by 20 percent in 2010 compared to 2005.
•The draft for the 12th Five-Year Program (2011-2015), with additional policy overseeing eco-city development, will be finalized by China’s National People’s Congress in March, 2011.
China Eco-cities in the news:
Eco-city development projects have been announced in over 100 cities across China, however not all have been officially endorsed by China government regulatory authorities. Tongi University has conducted research citing nearly 170 self-proclaimed eco-cities.
China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) launched a national low-carbon province and low-carbon city experimental project in Beijing in August, 2010. The project is being implemented in five provinces: Guangdong, Liaoning, Hubei, Shaanxi and Yunnan, and in eight cities: Tianjin, Chongqing, Shenzhen, Xiamen, Hangzhou, Nanchang, Guiyang and Baoding.
Notable China Eco-city or Sustainable Community projects also include:
• Tangshan Caofeidian International Eco-city
• Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city
• Chongming Dongtan Eco-city (currently inactive)
• Shenzhen Guangming Eco-city, Guangdong Province
• Yangzhou Eco-city, Jiangsu Province
• Nanjing Eco-city, Jiangsu Province (several eco-cities and eco-business parks are under development)
• Huaibei Eco-city, Anhui Province
• Langfang Eco-city, China (outside of Beijing)
• Mengtougou Eco-city (outside of Beijing)
• Meixi Lake Eco-city, Changsha, Hunan Province (there are several additional eco-cities planned for this region)
• Rongcheng Eco-town and Weihai City, Shandong Province
• Huangbaiyu (currently abandoned)
• Chengdu, Sichuan
• Xiamen Eco-city “retrofit”
• Guiyang, Guizhou
• “US-China Eco-city Initiative” between the US Department of Energy (DOE)and China’s Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD). Both sides are developing guidelines and policies to support the integration of energy efficiency and renewable energy into city design and operation. January, 2011.
Research and policy development
• Tongi University has conducted research citing over 160 eco-cities in China. UNEP-Tongji University Institute of Environment for Sustainable Development
Useful Eco-city Case Studies:
• Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city Project, released by World Bank on January 11, 2011
• Asian Development Bank’s overview on Eco-cities in China, “Eco-City Development: A New and Sustainable Way Forward?: November 2010
2011 Eco-city Events:
• The World Eco-city Summit, Montreal 2011, held August 22-26, 2011
Terry Cooke: This is Terry Cooke, editor of TCBN’s Green Development Channel. I’m here with Piper Lounsbury Stover. Piper’s been active in China for the last 20 years working with companies on the ground. On recent years she’s had involvement with a number of eco-city projects. Piper, welcome.
Piper Lounsbury Stover: Thanks, Terry.
TC: We’re talking about eco-cities in China. For starters, can you just let us know what eco-cities are and why they seem to be popping up at a fast rate?
PLS: Sure. “Eco” – meaning ecologically sustainable cities. I think in the late – well, early to mid-90s, the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection started to develop these ‘eco-city’ guidelines, which were really a series of key performance indicators (KPIs) to try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to conserve energy and water resources in several cities across China, starting as pilot project, and now expanding to hundreds of cities.
The main drivers to this development – China is facing massive migration right now. Almost 50% of China’s population currently lives in over 600 cities in China. Nearly 300 million will move from rural areas to Chinese cities in the next ten years, so this is a massive influx of people and China’s going to have to invest up to $3.6 trillion in urban infrastructure to handle that migration by 2020.
So with that, there’s going to be a growth of 2nd tier cities to handle the migration. And with that growth there is going to be continued strain on resources. So to conserve energy needs China’s has to implement policies. China will be increasing energy needs by 150% by 2020 and will have water issues. Water reclamation and water policies are going to be important because China, for its populations, has only a fourth of the world’s average water per capita. So it’s a big issue that the China Daily started reporting on in 2005 or 2006; we are seeing more and more domestic reports on water issues.
TC: And currently there’s a drought right now.
PLS: Exactly. So to address this from a policy perspective, the 11th Five Year Plan and the 12th Five Year Plan have advocated objectives to promote sustainability in these eco-cities. And that means opportunity – opportunity for companies, and certainly land and real estate developers to try to meet the challenge.
TC: Well we’ll get to that investment and commercial opportunity in just a moment. Before we do, Piper, could you just say a word about where these eco-cites are which are the biggest?
PLS: Sure. I mentioned the 2nd tier cities earlier. I think it’s important because when we think of the 1st tier cities in China we think of Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, areas, but these 2nd tier cities are growing, and provides opportunities for real estate development that did not exist previously. The biggest ones right now are occurring in these 2nd tier areas. We have two greenfield projects that are the largest – 30 sq km areas. One in is Tangshan, called the Caofeidian International Eco-city. I believe that is an eco-city in coordination with the government of Sweden. There is the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city – that’s a 30 sq km also sq area in Tianjin. And then there was the Kingdom Chongming Dongtan Eco-city. That was a really big eco city planned for an island off of Shanghai that hasn’t really gone anywhere, as I do not think the investment and the original plan worked out. While those are the obvious biggest, I have a whole list of others that I’d be glad to post after the call, including some in Shenzhen, in Jiangsu Province, in Anhui Province. There are many.
TC: Ok Piper. And you were just talking about the real estate development angle. You mentioned three premier projects, two of which seem to be moving forward well and one that seems to be stalled. From a project development and investment standpoint, what makes a sound eco-city project? What are the signs investors should look for?
PLS: Sure, there are probably five signs that I would look for if I were looking at a project. One would, obviously, be significant local and central government level support. You want to make sure the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) or the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (MOHURD) are backing these projects with key performance indicators approved by these two organizations to make sure they’re on track with national standards.
And of course the land acquisition. That’s important. You want to make sure that these projects are not encroaching on farmland or other areas where inhabitants are living, and certainly converting non-arable wasteland has been one way to look at better utilizing land.
TC: Just to clarify that one, Piper, there’s a risk that if the local government has misappropriated land there would be political risk attached to that.
PLS: Certainly. That is one key issue, but also it is a higher cost in some areas to actually to move people. It’s very costly. So for those two reasons it is important to find out how the land was acquired and how it will be used (for the whole system).
And then there is location. You want to find out how far away these eco-cites are from an old city center – whether transportation is going to be convenient or not. Some of these eco-cities are located very close to rail lines or high-speed rails planned for the future, so that of course would be of interest to me.
The fourth and fifth would include: at what speed would the purchasing power of these cities develop? I know for 2nd tier cities this can be questionable. You want to make sure the economy will continue to grow, and you want growth predictions to be based on sound plans.
The fifth would be competition in the same area. If your company is looking at either investing or moving into one of these eco-cities, what is the competition around you? What human capital talents exist? And what are either other cities nearby or neighboring counties also doing to attract similar industries, or even your own competitors?
TC: Good. Those are key points for an investor to keep their eye on. What about the opportunity more broadly, for foreign businesses across the board to participate in and benefit from this trend of eco-cities throughout China?
PLS: Certainly with an opportunity to pursue either a green field investment or rehabilitation of some cities, opportunities exist for green building, green technology companies, green energy – renewable wind, solar, CHP, and other types of renewable energy technologies, as well as water and waste technologies. For all of these eco-cities. With already nearly 170 of these so-called eco-cities popping up around China, imagine the opportunity for green technologies in each of these cities.
So that is one area: products and services in the sustainable building sector. The other would be finance and investment opportunities – for R&D and start-ups. I could imagine incubators/ R&D facilities established in some of these areas outside of larger cities, depending on the location in China.
And then third – knowledge-based economy opportunities: in new media, computer networking, IT/ back office outsourcing-types of IT services, and problem solving and consulting. Certainly with the growing concern that China has scarce resources, there is a natural and understandable inclination to try to move from industrialization and heavy machinery/heavy energy and water-using industries to higher-value, knowledge-based services. The eco-cites would be targets to offer or create such knowledge-based service opportunities for companies looking for such.
TC: Piper you commented on the investment outlook and also the commercial opportunities. What about the durability of this trend in China from a business standpoint?
PLS: I would say that certainly we all understand the top-down policies either promulgated from the 11th or 12th Five Year Plan (to be reviewed in March 2011), are central to understanding where growth will happen, and that funding will be diverted to these eco-cites to make them a success, so can trust in that. However, at the same time we need to think about the greater economy and health at the local or regional level where these eco-cites are located, as well as the national level.
And because eco-cities are a more expensive operation to create (to meet stringent KPIs), you’ve got some very sensitive systems that do need management and attention. There is a danger that some shortcuts would be made to save money. I’ve heard one story in the past couple years where in an eco-city in a more remote location, the energy was considered expensive and so the lights were basically turned out during the winter to meet KPIs. In general, looking at the five or six points I mentioned earlier about making sure you’re researching the right eco-city and ensuring it is in a location that is sound and associated with strong economic growth, things should be okay.
TC: Piper earlier in our talk you identified three particular projects and then ticked off the names and a couple others that you will post to the TCBN website. One project that I did not hear you mention was the Chicago-Shanghai Eco-city agreement. Could you tell us a little bit about that particular agreement?
PLS: Well it’s a bit of a different animal, but I’m glad you mentioned that. I think, dating back to the Clinton administration, there was an effort to create a more cooperative information exchange, particularly between the DOE and China’s counterparts. I think that in the 2010 September timeframe, the DOE announced a new Chicago-Shanghai Eco-city. It’s basically a way for the two cities to trade best practices and to work together to develop standards and to help each other understand what could be possible in cities located throughout not only China but also the United States. So I think in this effort, if I’m not mistaken, there are 7 or 8 cities in the US and in China that may be paired together in this US-China-India Integrated Cities Initiative that is being coordinated by the US Department of Energy via the Brookhaven National Lab. It will help not only create more transparency and understanding of some of the standards that could evolve, but also to provide more of a quality control so that companies can have a bit of political cover in understanding which eco-cites are going to be considered sound and which are not.
TC: All right, well time’s drawing to a close, but in closing, Piper, let me just ask whether there’s just one project you’d like to highlight as a case study?
PLS: You know, in some of the research that I’ve done, I found one report to be very useful, which has made me think that this particular eco-city could be a success: the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city. A case study written by the World Bank, or I believe prepared based on a grant application that the Tianjin Eco-city had submitted to the World Bank. It is on the web and available to the public, and I think the study is the most recent comprehensive report I’ve found on eco-cities in China.
TC: Well great! Piper, thank you for your thoughts and your insights. We’ll possibility try to get back to you in a year or so and see how the progress with eco-cities has been.
PLS: Sounds great, Terry. Thanks. And I will post those cities for everyone to take a look at.
TC: Thank you. Bye bye.
TCBN’s Green Development Channel Editor Terry Cooke is the Founder of GC3 Strategy Inc., helping U.S. technology and investment firms since 2002 to create and sustain commercial partnerships in Greater China and India. >>See more on his profile>>
Piper Lounsbury Stover is the Principal for China Dynamics LLC, based in Vermont. She has nearly 20 years of experience in China business and policy.