They came, they saw… and they signed off on major clean energy deals

As ever, China is a country with a mission; this time to forge forward with its clean energy programme with the help of European partners. Within the space of just a few days, China has signed off on a plethora of renewable energy-related deals with Spain, Scotland and England over the last week.

During what could be described as a clean energy mission, China’s Vice Premier, Li Keqiang, recently signed off on several Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) with Scottish, English and Spanish officials, all of which are aimed at strengthening collaboration in the clean tech space.

First stop on Li Keqiang’s whirlwind tour was Spain; a world leader in renewables in its own right. During his time there during the first week of January, the Chinese Vice Premier agreed with the Spanish government to strengthen joint efforts in the energy sector through a number of MOUs signed off with Spain’s Minister for Industry, Miguel Sebastián.

Sixteen agreements were signed in total; twelve with private companies in key economic sectors including the renewable energy sector. The agreements amount to a staggering €5.65 billion, 97% of which reportedly corresponds to deals made in October with Spanish oil giant Repsol.

It is understood that China values Spain’s expertise and experience in clean energies and that part of the billion-euro investment will be earmarked for renewable energies. “During these times of economic crisis, China feels obliged to join Spain and the European Union in finding solutions to the crisis. We have not come with our hands empty,” said China’s Ambassador to Spain, Zhu Bangzao.

Waste-to-energy know-how

Next stop on China’s recent clean energy mission was Scotland, during which the Chinese delegation announced the conclusion of a €7.7 million licensing agreement between a Sino-Scottish firm, Shanghai Huanuan Boiler and Vessel Cochran (SHBVC), and engineering company, W2E Engineering Ltd Scotland.

The agreement will see technology pioneered in Scotland being introduced into China with the building of a new plant which will generate renewable energy through the gasification of domestic waste.

"This announcement positions SHBV/Cochran as a global leader in providing the technological know-how to support green energy developments with major expansion potential in China and elsewhere,” Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said, adding, "A number of Scottish energy companies, such as the Glasgow based Sgurr Energy, have already entered the Chinese market and this visit will help to showcase the innovation and skills that Scotland's green energy sector offers potential investors.”

During the visit, Vice Premier Li and six Chinese Ministers were also given a presentation on Scotland's rapidly growing offshore wind and marine energy industry, and toured Scottish ocean energy developer, Pelamis Wave Power, in Edinburgh.

"China already has the largest deployment of onshore renewable technology, and Scotland is a world-leader in pioneering the technology and application of clean, green energy. This announcement is another positive step forward in strengthening Sino-Scottish links and confirming Scotland's reputation as a global leader in the development of renewable energy," concluded Salmond.

"Contributing to environmental protection is the duty of every citizen," said Shanghai Huanuan Boiler and Vessel Co Chairman, Dong Ping. “This agreement will see the creation of new green power stations built in Scotland and in China and this will generate sustainable renewable energy at a reduced cost for our global customers.”

The deal, which was announced as Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang began a to the UK, will see technology pioneered in Scotland used at a new renewable energy conversion plant in China.

Focusing on low carbon growth

After visiting Scotland, Mr Li continued his four-day visit of the UK by travelling to London where the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said “low carbon growth was put firmly at the heart of UK-China relations” during meetings between the two countries. During his time there, Li signed off on another MOU which will take forward the agreement reached during last year’s UK-China Summit to develop a new partnerships scheme for promoting low-carbon growth at provincial and city level in China.

The agreement follows the visit by the Prime Minister and Chris Huhne to China last year in what was the largest ever political and business delegation to visit the country.

“Making green growth a reality for both countries will be crucial for prosperity, the environment and for our energy security. Today’s agreement demonstrates that the UK and China want to accelerate this shift to low carbon and are committed to greater collaboration on energy markets and low carbon technology,” Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said on 10 January.

According to DECC, the MOU entitled the UK China Low Carbon Co-operation (LCC) “will strengthen the exchange of practical policy knowhow and expertise between the UK and China’s Low Carbon Pilot Provinces and Municipalities” and will focus on three main themes:

• Low-carbon planning;

• Use of market mechanisms, including emissions accounting and trading, and wider low carbon policy frameworks and analysis to encourage low-carbon development and energy efficiency; and

• Low carbon standards, low-carbon labelling and procurement to bring about low carbon consumption.

DECC reveals that the UK-China LCC will focus initially on co-operation between the UK and the following low carbon pilots in China: Chongqing, Guangdong and Hubei, which have a combined population of 180 million people. Both countries will work towards establishing a UK-China Low Carbon Co-operation Committee and Action Plan in Spring 2011.

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