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The motto of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is ‘knowledge in the public service.’ This publication of mine from September 2012 is made available to the public free of charge here by downloadable PDF.
At the time of my initial appointment to the Wilson Center, it struck me that something was missing from the general discussion in the United States concerning China’s embrace of clean energy and its implications for the United States. Much of what had been written embraced one of two polar positions. It seemed that the U.S.-China relationship in clean energy was either the best avenue for our cooperation or the measuring stick for our final competition. To a casual but concerned reader, the message was confusing. Newspaper “word-bites,” rather than informing discussion, lent anxiety to the existing confusion. The Woodrow Wilson Center provided me time and resources to examine the facts about clean technology (“cleantech”) and China. This was timely. Government agencies, think tanks and trade associations hoping to influence the policy debate began in February 2009 to release a spate of lengthy and in-depth policy reports, many of them technical in nature. We will learn in Chapter One how and why that gusher of information—which has thrown up literally shelf-feet of reports over the past year and a half— suddenly arose. However, for the purposes of this Introduction, it is simply worth noting that these policy tomes, for all that they did serve to provide data-based context to what had previously been “context-free” highly combustible reporting, did not offer much help to an interested non-specialist in making better sense of the main issues. At this “informed” end of the information spectrum, there was now almost too much information spread across too many specialized viewpoints. For a busy entrepreneur, investment manager, business professional, state or local government official, regional economic development analyst, scientific researcher, or engaged student—in fact, for any concerned “global citizen” wanting to understand the issues in a straightforward and streamlined way— it was famine or feast. A super-abundance of highly-specialized information provides not much more help in gaining an efficient grasp of the core issues than scattershot newspaper and media reporting had offered. Sustaining U.S.-China Clean Energy Cooperation 3 This book aims squarely at the “middle ground” of curiosity and interest in this broad topic. At the outset, I would like to be clear about three “operating assumptions” I have built in: Timeframe The three main chapters are concerned with the three-year period from mid-2008 to mid-2011. Except for one digression involving Five Year Plans which covers a 30-year period, this limitation on perspective actually helps bring the main subject matter into better focus. The bulk of the U.S. political effort to engage with China in the clean energy arena took shape during the 2008 Presidential Campaign and was further framed through policy initiatives of the Obama administration. For a new industrial ecosystem like “cleantech” or clean energy, what is relevant is defined by what has most recently happened. It is only in the Conclusion that the time-frame is pulled back to show that some of the dynamics described in preceding chapters are, in fact, related to deeper and more long-standing trends in the overall U.S.-China relationship. Structure As author, I have insisted on an organizational principle for presenting information which puts me at odds with the conventional approach of “Beltway” experts. In Washington, the tendency is to run all relevant information through what I will call the “policy blender” and to present the resulting product as a mix of policy recommendation, policy analysis, and policy refutation. I take a different approach. I believe that the policy process is best served when the three main aspects of business-relevant policy are broken down and viewed separately in their own right. These are: (a) the politics underlying the policy process; (b) the technology innovations which policy initiatives aim to support; and (c) the investment ultimately required to take any technology innovation to scale in the marketplace, thereby driving policy on a long-term and sustainable basis. Rather than jumble these perspectives, I treat them in Merritt t. Cooke 4 separate chapters and try to adopt the relevant “mind-set” of each in presenting material in the respective chapter. This may be nothing more than a reflection of my former training as a cultural anthropologist, but I believe it is useful—within the complex arena of China, the United States, and energy—in revealing underlying dynamics. For this reason, in the U.S. section of the opening chapter on Politics, I will rely heavily on the words of key political actors. Ours is a system where the president needs to persuade the electorate and what is said matters. In the section on Chinese Politics, the approach is different, relying instead on “structural analysis” of the ruling party and its interests. In each case, the attempt is to adopt a perspective particularly suited to its subject matter. Purpose The Woodrow Wilson Center’s motto is “knowledge in the public service.” Woodrow Wilson epitomized the ideal of the “practitioner scholar”—the part-time scholar who devotes some of his or her career to bringing scholarly research into the practical, socially-relevant domains of government or business or non-profit work. This is the spirit with which I have written this book. I am neither a career academic nor a professional policymaker. I have tried to make this book clear and concise, although it involves a complex, and fast-changing topic. Especially for technically inclined readers, I want to acknowledge that no sector domain in the U.S.-China clean energy field can be adequately reduced to a couple of pages. I believe this topic is an important one. If the United States and China find a way to realistically base and sustain their cooperation in clean energy, they will be addressing directly 40 percent of the world’s total carbon emissions. And if together they manage to create a replicable model of cooperation, they can indirectly help the world address the remaining 60 percent. At its core, this topic touches everyone—those who care deeply about America’s place in the world, those who are moved by China’s epochal reemergence, those who are environmentally-engaged, and those who are responsible global citizens. Students are a particularly important audience because the tectonic issue described in this book will ultimately be the felt experience of their generation. In short, I hope that this book may be found to present important issues in a balanced way and to offer something useful and readily comprehensible to anyone with enough interest to pick it up.
Henry “Hank” Paulson — former Chairman of Goldman Sachs, former Secretary of the U.S. Treasury and creator of the U.S.-China Strategic & Economic Dialogue — was in Philadelphia last Wednesday. He came to publicize his new book Dealing With China: An Insider Unmasks the New Economic Superpower.
The media frame for the talk and Q&A which he gave to the World Affairs Council of Greater Philadelphia was: ‘Hank, you’re a real patriot. Why are you helping China?”
In response, Hank Paulson was very clear that his interest in promoting a better understanding of China is rooted in his desire to do what is best for America.
You can read the full article here but, for the purposes of this post, I’m going to focus on one small, but important, piece of the big contemporary China puzzle: Is Xi’s ongoing crackdown (on corruption but also on foreign businesses, NGOs, press freedoms, social media, connectivity to the global knowledge-pool, etc) flashing green, yellow or red for China’s paramount challenge of rebooting its economy on a more sustainable basis?
China’s ‘old software version’ of infrastructure build-out, inbound investment and export of cheap stuff is clearly no longer operating smoothly on the new global hardware system. China’s future – and Xi Jinping’s for that matter – depends on a smooth updating to a ‘new software version’ of consumer-led spending, outbound investment and innovation up the product value-chain. Under any circumstances, that’s a tall-order to pull off in just a few years. For those of us who believe that helping China matters to America’s future, the key question is whether the crackdown on political thought in China is – or is not — inimical to the desperately needed surge of commercial innovation needed to upgrade China’s economy to version 2.0.
It is perhaps not entirely a coincidence that, in the same week that Hank Paulson was wrestling with this question in Philadelphia, so were two other leading experts on the trajectory of China’s globalization elsewhere: Shaun Rein and Tom Friedman in respective articles. If Hank Paulson occupies the pivot point as a U.S. patriot committed to helping China, Shaun Rein is a self-acknowledged China booster and Tom Friedman a “color me dubious” observer of China’s steep road ahead to globalization.
Here’s what each of them has had to say over the past week on the ‘sword of Damocles’ question facing Xi and China: crackdown or start-up? (Click on the name below in order to source the original publication from which the following excerpts are taken):
“Paulson believes the Communist Party has reached a simple accord with the Chinese people: prosperity in return for continued state control. The question, of course, is whether China can have it both ways – economic freedom without cultural freedom, a subject I raised with Paulson at the World Affairs Council.
‘In today’s information economy, I don’t know how economies can innovate and do the sorts of things they do to stay on top without having a free flow of ideas and information,” Paulson replied. “I’ve run a global company, and, boy, you need to be connected. You can’t have an Internet that’s not connected. You need to know what’s going on politically, regulatory systems, economically, in terms of ideas all over the world.’
He added: ‘But understand what’s going on right now. Xi Jinping . . . is focusing on the things that the people care about the most. So, corruption. He recognizes the party won’t survive unless he curbs corruption. So he’s focused on corruption, the environment, dirty air, and water.’
“So . . . managing China, just think what it’s like because they have to deal with the kinds of issues that afflict developed countries at the same time they have to deal with issues that developing countries are dealing with because a big part of the country is still poor. It would be like, . . . looking at Europe, Germany and Slovenia. They are both European, vastly different stages of development, they need different economic policies. So think about managing both of those in a single country under one party, and I mean that’s sort of the challenge.’”
“China´s much needed anti-corruption drive has now put the country into a lock-down mode, and new projects have halted,” tells business analyst Shaun Rein at CNBC. “The cut in the reserve ratio ratio (RRR) this weekend is one way for a kickstart, although nobody know what will really work.”
China Herald: “What does the Chinese market need to stimulate the economy and if this growth continues to disappoint then would you expect an additional benchmark rate cut in the next couple of quarters, something that many experts are now talking about?”
Rein: “I think what we need to look at is not gross domestic product (GDP) growth but we need to take a look at unemployment and the second reason why I am more concerned about the economy is in the last month urban unemployment has been hovering around 5 percent – that’s really a problem. So the unemployment rate in areas of manufacturing are still fairly strong and you can easily stimulate that by forcing state owned enterprises to do heavy investment; train construction, airport construction and you can get jobs there but the issue is urban unemployment is weak and there aren’t a lot of easy remedies. The government is trying to switch from manufacturing oriented economy more towards one of technology and innovation as I outlined in my new book ‘The End of Copycat China’ but it is not easy to do that. You cannot get companies that are producing things all a sudden to become innovators, so there is definitely going to be some weakness, some problems in the economy over the next three-four months and frankly there are no easy answers on how they stimulate the economy.”
“Americans … are asking of President Xi: “What’s up with you?” Xi’s anti-corruption campaign is clearly aimed at stifling the biggest threat to any one-party system: losing its legitimacy because of rampant corruption. But he also seems to be taking out potential political rivals as well. Xi has assumed more control over the military, economic and political levers of power in China than any leader since Mao. But to what end — to reform or to stay the same?
“Xi is “amassing power to maintain the Communist Party’s supremacy,” argued Willy Wo-Lap Lam, author of “Chinese Politics in the Era of Xi Jinping: Renaissance, Reform or Retrogression?” Xi “believes one reason behind the Soviet Union’s collapse is that the party lost control of the army and the economy.” But Xi seems to be more focused on how the Soviet Union collapsed than how America succeeded, and that is not good. His crackdown has not only been on corruption, which is freezing a lot of officials from making any big decisions, but on even the mildest forms of dissent. Foreign textbooks used by universities are being censored, and blogging and searching on China’s main Internet sites have never been more controlled. Don’t even think about using Google there or reading Western newspapers online.
“But, at the same time, Xi has begun a huge push for “innovation,” for transforming China’s economy from manufacturing and assembly to more knowledge-intensive work, so this one-child generation will be able to afford to take care of two retiring parents in a country with an inadequate social-safety net.
“Alas, crackdowns don’t tend to produce start-ups.
“As Antoine van Agtmael, the investor who coined the term “emerging markets,” said to me: China is making it harder to innovate in China precisely when rising labor costs in China and rising innovation in America are spurring more companies to build their next plant in the United States, not China. The combination of cheap energy in America and more flexible, open innovation — where universities and start-ups share brainpower with companies to spin off discoveries; where manufacturers use a new generation of robots and 3-D printers that allow more production to go local; and where new products integrate wirelessly connected sensors with new materials to become smarter, faster than ever — is making America, says van Agtmael, “the next great emerging market.”
“It’s a paradigm shift,” he added. “The last 25 years was all about who could make things cheapest, and the next 25 years will be about who can make things smartest.”
President Xi seems to be betting that China is big enough and smart enough to curb the Internet and political speech just enough to prevent dissent but not enough to choke off innovation. This is the biggest bet in the world today. And if he’s wrong (and color me dubious) we’re all going to feel it.”
Philadelphia was selected today to join an economic development network created by the Global Cities Initiative (GCI) , a five-year joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase. Philadelphia’s application to, and participation in, the Global Cities Initiative is being co-led by the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia and the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia.
Launched in 2012, the Global Cities Initiative helps business and civic leaders grow their metropolitan economies by strengthening international connections and competitiveness. GCI activities include producing data and research to guide decisions, fostering practice and policy innovations, and facilitating a peer learning network. This network, the Global Cities Initiative’s Exchange, assists metropolitan areas as they develop plans to achieve sustainable growth through increased exports and foreign direct investment.
Philadelphia is one of eight metro areas accepted to the GCI Exchange’s 2015 group, the final cohort of the full 28-metro-area network. The Brookings Institution selected metro areas for the Exchange through a competitive process based on their readiness and commitment to pursue the Exchange’s global competitiveness principles.
In addition to Philadelphia, the other 7 members of the new and final cohort include Baltimore; Fresno, Calif.; Houston; Kansas City, Mo.; Salt Lake City; Seattle; and St. Louis.
The 2015 cohort joins participating municipal regions selected during the three previous years – 4 in 2012; 8 in 2013; and 8 in 2014. Those previous participating municipal regions include: Atlanta; Charleston, S.C.; Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Des Moines, Iowa;Indianapolis; Jacksonville, Fla.; Los Angeles; Louisville-Lexington, Ky.; Minneapolis-Saint Paul; Milwaukee;Phoenix; Portland, Ore.; Sacramento, Calif.; San Antonio; San Diego; Syracuse, N.Y.; Tampa Bay, Fla.; Upstate S.C. representing the Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson CSA; and Wichita, Kansas.
For more information on the Global Cities Initiative please visit:
The summer’s over and the new work-year has begun. No better way to kick it off than with a reprise of our summer’s big news — China Partnership of Greater Philadelphia and the City of Philadelphia were recognized at the annual high-level U.S.-China talks in Beijing this summer with one of six new U.S.-China EcoPartnerships. Our partner is the Tianjin Economic-technological Development Area or TEDA. Our PHL-TEDA EcoPartnership focuses on funded projects in Tianjin for smartgrid online monitoring systems (OMS), wetlands urban water management (WUWM), and green building energy efficiency (GBEE).
Front row (from right to left) China’s State Councilor Jiechi Yang , Sec of State Kerry, Amb. Baucus & Counselor to the President, John Podesta
In other posts to follow, I’ll share some more background on what the five-year old U.S.-China EcoPartnership program is (and why it matters), give thumbnails on the other five EcoPartnership awardees in 2014, and provide a listing of the twenty-four active EcoPartners since the inauguration of the program in 2014.
In the meanwhile, here are links publicizing our new three-year PHL-TEDA EcoPartnership:
Secretary Kerry remarks at July 10th EcoPartnership signing ceremony
City of Philadelphia Press Release (on City’s blog)
City of Philadelphia Press Release (on City Facebook page)
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,
This is the second in the 2012 series of Cooketop News commentaries and news recaps.
By reviewing the previous week’s top stories involving — broadly speaking — U.S./China clean energy, the commentary section isolates one trend/dynamic which points forward and can help illuminate news-in-the-making for the week(s) ahead. Following the commentary is a summary of the week’s top stories.
This week? We look at the headline (Cooketop News, Friday, January 13th) that, after four years, the U.S. re-took the lead from China as the front-runner in global clean energy investment.
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From 2008-10, the U.S. visibly lost pace – and, in some instances, lead position – to China as the world’s top investor in clean energy. In 2010, China – then just over one-third the size of the U.S. economy – invested twice the absolute amount in clean energy as the U.S. Yet, in 2011, the U.S. bounced back, reclaiming top-spot for the first time in four years: U.S. investment increased 33% to US$56 billion while Chinese investment remained flat at $47 billion, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. What does it mean? Less than the headlines might suggest.
Here are three key points to keep in mind while tracking current results – and handicapping future results – in the global clean energy arena:
(1) It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. The bragging-rights prize will ultimately go to the economy which manages the best combination of technological innovation, political support, and financial sustainability over many years. Germany and Spain have seen political support for their heavily subsidized systems erode with the euro. The U.S. is in near political grid-lock over how to set that balance. China’s position looks strong on the surface but is hobbled by lack of technology innovation, political accountability and financial transparency.
(2) How high’s the bounce? The U.S. resurgence is due to short-term programs due to expire soon, such as biofuel support programs and energy efficiency measures. Absent a broad national consensus, there is no strong reason to expect the U.S. “bounce” to remain strong throughout 2012, an election year.
(3) The bottom-line is this is a race is against time, not a Sputnik-type competition. For either nation’s efforts to pay off, investment will need to be scaled to a global level by investors, public and private. That won’t happen unless there is a clear middle-way between the extremes which tend to bedevil U.S.-China relations – zero-sum, highly-nationalistic competition on the one hand vs. unrealistic and unsustainable ideas of cooperation on the other.
While the metric of renewed investment vigor in the U.S. is encouraging, the real challenge for the future will be to define and align complementary ‘skill-sets’ in both the U.S. and China so that capital can be attracted and deployed on a global scale through these two massive markets accounting for 40% of the global GHG emissions problem. We’ll need a discerning eye for the different strengths which our two countries can bring as complementary partners in this effort as well as a realistic understanding of our enduringly different systems and values. Regardless of who has the momentary lead in investment level, we need to recognize that there is no path to a sustainable future for either country without clear-eyed, realistically-based and sustained cooperation between the two.
Monday, January 9, 2012
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Wednesday, January 12, 2012
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Friday, January 13, 2011
This is the first of regular weekly Cooketop News blog posts (scheduled to appear each Monday).
By reviewing the previous week’s top stories involving — broadly speaking — China clean energy, the idea is to identify and comment on a particular emerging trend/issue which points forward and can help illuminate news-in-the-making for the week(s) ahead.
By radio analogy, the commentary is meant to cut through static in the general coverage of whatever’s the issue at hand and present a clear frequency and better ‘signal-processing’ for helping to tune in on an enduring news issue.
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THIS WEEK’S COMMENTARY — HUNTSMAN, REPUBLICANS & CHINA
Last week was the Iowa caucus and Tuesday of this week the New Hampshire primary. The related questions which these contests have raised are what have Jon Huntsman’s China connections and qualifications done for his campaign effort and what are the implications for China given the current crop of Republican candidates.
Let’s start with the second question. Liz Economy from the Council of Foreign Relations has done a better job than anyone at assessing the remaining field of candidates through the lens of their public positions on China. To borrow liberally from her analysis, here’s what we’re looking at:
Mitt Romney says it’s all about the economy, stupid: Mitt Romney’s China policy is all about trade measures —keeping counterfeits out, protecting intellectual property, levying sanctions against unfair trade practices, pressing China on its currency, etc. The question for an anti-“Big Government” candidate is who does all this work if not the government.
Ron Paul wants to make love, not war: Ron Paul appears to want to “go along to get along” with China: stop intrusive surveillance, reconsider the Taiwan Relations Act, drop the idea of import tariffs in retaliation for Beijing’s currency manipulation, and mute protestations over human rights issues. As Economy has put it, there’s little doubt that “candidate Paul …would be Beijing’s pick for top dog.”
Jon Huntsman is long on experience but short on traction: No surprise that the expertise in China policy is with former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman. Huntsman has all his facts in line. You can agree or disagree with his specific positions — opposing a China currency bill or engaging to promote political change in China—but you have to admit he knows his stuff.
Newt Gingrich jettisons balance to keep ship afloat: Gingrich’s initial positions in the campaign were balanced and reasonable, calling on the U.S. to do the right thing and take action on the home front in order to be more competitive. As his electoral options have narrowed though, his positions appear to be veering in a more extreme direction. Stay tuned for his advertising campaign in South Carolina to see if he starts demonizing China.
With Rick Santorum, the question is ‘Where’s the beef?’: Despite having a lengthy book and a Senatorial career in the public record, there’s almost nothing to go on to explain how Santorum would approach China if elected President. He did make a quote about going “to war with China” to “make America the most attractive place in the world to do business.” Huh?.
Rick Perry talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk: “Communist China is destined for the ash heap of history because they are not a country of virtues. When you have 35,000 forced abortions a day…, when you have the cyber security that the PLA has been involved with, those are great major issues both morally and security-wise that we’ve got to deal with now.” His actions? Courting Huawei, a problematic company, to invest in Texas.
So, on to the related question, what has Jon Huntsman’s Mandarin-speaking ability and Ambassadorial command of the issues meant for his election prospects? The answer, like a Rorschach, depends entirely on who you talk to. His proponents invariably cite it as a positive (see NY Times article) and his detractors cite it as a liability (see story from last Thursday below). Where’s the traction? Answer: there’s maybe some but not much.
Fault-lines have been exposed in the body politic over these questions. There’s no question that one of Ron Paul’s supporters went way, way over the line by insinuating Huntsman was questionably ‘American’ because he and his wife keep their adoptive children from China and India exposed to cultural traditions from those two civilizations, but nonetheless ideological conservatives generally seem to view his competence with China as itself a cause for suspicion.
The first generation of Mandarin competent statesmen drew heavily from the offspring of Christian missionaries who grew up in China, people like the late Ambassador James Lilley. Huntsman represents a second wave of high-level U.S. government officials who have Mandarin-competence through their two years of Mormon service abroad. (Tim Stratford, a former Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for China, is another example of this group of experts). The third wave will come from younger Americans who, in step with China’s opening to the world, have been able to burrow deeper into language and cultural expertise. They are making their way up the ladder of the U.S. government. I can only hope that the American electorate — and the Republican Party — can find a way to value the knowledge they bring to public service. The top rank of challenges which the U.S. faces will simply not be solved without constructive and effective engagement with China — and that requires people who understand, respect, and can operate in the sphere of Chinese language, culture and values.
(Disclosure: I have worked at various points in my career for Jim Lilley, Jon Huntsman, and Tim Stratford.)
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LAST WEEK’S COOKETOP NEWS
Here’s a listing of some of the top stories covered in Cooketop News for Week 1 of 2012 (with hyperlinks):
Monday, January 2, 2012
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
‘Culture Campaign’ Dents Programming
Green Cars & Clean Energy: The China Angle
Cleaner Technology in Global Arctic Oil Race
Chinese Philanthropists Join to Protect Nature
China’s IPOs Top World’s Exchanges Despite Slump
Thursday, January 5, 2011
Air Pollution Hazardous for China’s Economic Health
Drought Drying out Poyang Lake in Jiangxi Province
Rustbelt Cities Go Green to Strengthen Economies
China’s Corporate Debt Issuance Soars in 2011
Huntsman’s China Cred No Boost to his Prospects
Econ Ties to China Key Issue in Taiwan Election
Friday, January 6, 2011
10 Emerging Sustainable Cities to Watch
Solar Turbine Makers Turn to India & China
U.S. Manufacturers of Steel Wind Towers Cite China
LDK Solar Snags $64mm from PRC for U.S. Projects
China Announces Plan to Levy Carbon Tax by 2015
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That’s it for this week. I hope you find this of some value to your own pursuits. Give me a holler — either by leaving a comment below or by email — to let me know what you think, positive or negative. For anyone with a driving passion to get each day’s edition of Cooketop News (minus the summary listing and commentary that I provide in this weekly post), you can subscribe by going to the Cooketop News site at http://paper.li/mterrycooke/1324752421 and clicking on the upper-right Subscribe button. There is also an Archive feature on the site (upper-center) which allows you to look up any previous edition.
Oh, before signing off, I owe you an answer to the question in the title. Jon Huntsman’s name in Chinese? 洪博培. (And by the way, if you try searching for the name on China’s Twitter clone — Weibo — when you’re in China, you’ll likely find the name has been blocked).
In the spirit of sharing news while it’s fresh, I’m copying verbatim a report on the gold nugget in the pile of dross that has passed for this year’s national budget process.
For those of you who took in (in person or digitally) the Philadelphia’s 21st Century Energy Opportunity event I convened with the Academy of Natural Sciences and the T.C. Chan Center for Building Simulation & Energy Studies on October 11th, the win is obvious — for the City and the region, for the national effort for cleaner energy jobs and investment, and for our global engagement. For U.S./China clean energy cooperation, this budget victory also solidifies the framework of U.S./China Clean Energy Research Centers CERC) in building energy efficiency (Lawrence Berkeley Lab), electric vehicles (University of Michigan) and clean coal (University of West Virginia).
Kudos to Mark Muro and Bruce Katz for their success in keeping this ball moving down the field. Here’s the report from late yesterday afternoon.
Notwithstanding the bleak outlook surrounding federal clean energy policy detailed in our recent report “Sizing the Clean Economy,” the FY 2012 omnibus spending compromise hammered out last week actually contains several reassuring affirmations of the value of recent institutional experiments.
One winner is the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, perhaps the Department of Energy’s most popular program.
Although the program is funded at just $275 million–about half the level President Obama had requested–many will probably be relieved that the program has now survived, which hasn’t always seemed a certainty. Moreover, the deal improved on earlier bills that have circulated, suggesting that the cause of the government fomenting disruptive innovation using “outside-the-box” investments in venturesome technology ideas may be gaining traction. That’s good news.
So is another happy surprise in the deal: the authorization of two new DOE Energy Innovation Hubs, one specializing in rare earths and energy-critical materials and one for energy storage technologies. To be sure, the Obama administration had originally asked for eight of these hubs, and settled for three before this year requesting funds for three more in 2012. However, congressional appropriators weren’t convinced that there was a need for a hub focused on smart grid technologies, as reported Darius Dixon in Politico, and so the nation now has two more of them, for a total of five of these special purpose-driven, multidisciplinary centers for accelerated collaboration between corporations, universities, and government labs.
Yet we’ll take it. Having long argued that the nation has been making do with an obsolete energy research paradigm excessively oriented toward individual academic investigators, on the one hand, and the siloed and bureaucratic efforts of the DOE’s energy laboratories, on the other, it is gratifying to watch the slow but continuing rollout of a true network of well-funded, multi-sector regional innovation centers. Congress is doing the right thing by creating–hub by hub–a set of sizable new institutes charged with “winning the future” in energy technology.
One of the strongest attributes of job-creation from the clean energy economy in Greater Philadelphia and its surrounding ‘super-corridor’ (NY/MA through DC/VA) is its balanced profile. Year after year (and despite dynamic swings in the economy), the clean energy economy in this mega-cluster area (and the Greater Philadelphia region in particular) is producing:
- steady and dependable growth above the national average
- a sweet-spot of middle-skill and middle-wage jobs
The following mini-slideshow of data drawn from the new Brookings study Sizing the Clean Economy: A Green Jobs Report (released July 2011) illustrates these trends clearly:
The mini-slideshows in this week’s postings are provided courtesy of Mark Muro, Deputy Director of the Metropolitan Policy Program of the Brookings Institution. They are taken from Mark’s presentation at 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.
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.