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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. 2010. The Power of Renewables: Opportunities and Challenges for China and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12987.
×

THE POWER OF RENEWABLES

Opportunities and Challenges for China and the United States

Committee on U.S.-China Cooperation on Electricity from Renewable Resources

Policy and Global Affairs Division

NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

AND

CHINESE ACADEMY OF SCIENCES

CHINESE ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

Washington, D.C.
www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. 2010. The Power of Renewables: Opportunities and Challenges for China and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12987.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
500 Fifth Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001

NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

This study was supported by funding from Google.org (Grant No. 25-2008), the U.S. Department of State (Grant No. S-LMAQM-09-GR-306), the U.S. Department of Energy (Contract No. DE-DT000093, TO# 26), the National Science Foundation (Grant No. CBET-0917786), the National Academies, the National Academy of Engineering, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Chinese Academy of Engineering. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.

International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-16000-1

International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-16000-6

Copies of this report are available from the

National Academies Press,

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Copyright 2010 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. 2010. The Power of Renewables: Opportunities and Challenges for China and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12987.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine


The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.


The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering.


The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.


The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.


www.national-academies.org

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. 2010. The Power of Renewables: Opportunities and Challenges for China and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12987.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. 2010. The Power of Renewables: Opportunities and Challenges for China and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12987.
×

COMMITTEE ON U.S.-CHINA COOPERATION ON ELECTRICITY FROM RENEWABLE RESOURCES

U.S. Committee

LAWRENCE PAPAY (NAE),1 chair,

PQR LLC

XUEMEI BAI,

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization

RICHARD BAIN,

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

ROGER BEZDEK,

Management Information Services Inc.

HELENA CHUM,

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

J. MICHAEL DAVIS,

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

JOANNA LEWIS,

Georgetown University

JANA MILFORD,

University of Colorado at Boulder

JEFFREY PETERSON,

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority

CARL WEINBERG,

Weinberg Associates

Chinese Committee

ZHAO ZHONGXIAN (CAS),2 chair,

Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences

CHEN YONG,

Guangzhou Branch, Chinese Academy of Sciences

DAI SONGYUAN,

Institute of Plasma Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences

FEI WEIYANG (CAS),

Tsinghua University

GANG WU, Chairman and CEO,

Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co. Ltd.

HE DEXIN,

Chinese Wind Energy Association

HUANG QILI (CAE),3

Northeast China Grid Company Ltd.

LUO ZHONGYANG,

Zhejiang University

MA LONGLONG,

Guangzhou Institute of Energy Conversion, Chinese Academy of Sciences

SU JILAN (CAS),

Second Institute of Oceanography, State Oceanic Administration

WANG XIFAN,

Xiían Jiaotong University

WANG ZHIFENG,

Institute of Electrical Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences

WU CHUANGZHI,

Guangzhou Institute of Energy Conversion, Chinese Academy of Sciences

XIAO LIYE,

Institute of Electrical Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences

XU HONGHUA,

Institute of Electrical Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences

XU JIANZHONG (CAS),

Institute of Engineering Thermophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences

1

National Academy of Engineering

2

Chinese Academy of Sciences

3

Chinese Academy of Engineering

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. 2010. The Power of Renewables: Opportunities and Challenges for China and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12987.
×

YAN LUGUANG (CAS),

Institute of Electrical Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences

YANG YULIANG (CAS),

Fudan University

ZHAO DAIQING,

Guangzhou Institute of Energy Conversion, Chinese Academy of Sciences

ZHAO YING,

Nankai University

ZHENG HOUZHI (CAS),

Institute of Semiconductors, Chinese Academy of Sciences

ZHOU FENGQI,

Energy Research Institute, National Development and Reform Commission (retired)

ZHU RONG,

Center for Wind and Solar Energy Resource Assessment, China Meteorological Administration

U.S. Staff

DEREK VOLLMER, Study Director,

Policy and Global Affairs Division, The National Academies

LANCE DAVIS, Executive Officer,

National Academy of Engineering

PROCTOR REID, Director,

Program Office, National Academy of Engineering

PENELOPE GIBBS, Senior Program Associate,

National Academy of Engineering

DAVID LUKOFSKY, Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Graduate Fellow and National Academy of Engineering Fellow

Chinese Staff

CAO JINGHUA, Deputy Director,

Bureau of International Cooperation, Chinese Academy of Sciences

DU FENGLI, Director Assistant,

Institute of Electrical Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences

KANG JINCHENG, Deputy Director-General,

Bureau of International Cooperation, Chinese Academy of Engineering

LIAO CUIPING, Research Director,

Guangzhou Institute of Energy Conversion, Chinese Academy of Sciences

LIU FENGSONG, Deputy Director-General,

Bureau of Academic Study, Chinese Academy of Sciences

LU YAO, Research Assistant,

Guangzhou Institute of Energy Conversion, Chinese Academy of Sciences

SHEN YIMIN, Office Manager,

Bureau of Academic Study, Chinese Academy of Sciences

WANG ZHENHAI, Deputy Director-General,

Bureau of Policy Studies, Chinese Academy of Engineering

XU HAIYAN, Deputy Director,

Bureau of International Cooperation, Chinese Academy of Engineering

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. 2010. The Power of Renewables: Opportunities and Challenges for China and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12987.
×

Preface

The U.S. National Academies have had an ongoing program of cooperation with the Chinese Academies (Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering) since the late 1990s, focusing on issues of mutual interest in the fields of energy and environmental management. Their first joint publication, Cooperation in the Energy Futures of China and the United States (2000), was the first examination of broad energy questions both nations faced as they entered the new millennium.

This initial study was followed by Personal Cars in China (2003), which examined China’s nascent automotive industry and the implications of increasing personal vehicle use. Subsequently, the respective Academies jointly published Urbanization, Energy, and Air Pollution in China: The Challenges Ahead (2004) and Energy Futures and Urban Air Pollution: Challenges for China and the United States (2007), offering two detailed examinations of the interrelation between energy use and air quality on an urban scale. By the time this last study had concluded, the committees had witnessed a dramatic shift in terms of global interest in energy issues, climate change, and the U.S.-Chinese bilateral relationship.

It is against this backdrop that the present study was developed. Leaders from both countries’ respective Academies agreed that renewable energy provided a topic of mutual interest, with implications domestically and globally, and with important scientific and technical questions to address. Upon consultations with government agencies in each country, the respective Academies proposed a study that would focus on utility-scale electricity generation from three major resources: wind, solar, and biomass.

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. 2010. The Power of Renewables: Opportunities and Challenges for China and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12987.
×

The expert committees appointed by the Academies were tasked with comparatively assessing resource potential, exploring near-term market opportunities for mature technologies, and providing recommendations on priorities for enhanced U.S.-Chinese cooperation in this field. Recognizing that a tremendous amount of work was already underway, at a domestic level in each country but also bilaterally in the form of public and private collaborations, the committees sought to identify areas where cooperation might bring the most benefits in terms of technology development, cost reduction, or deployment.

Four bilateral meetings were organized over the course of 12 months so that the committees could jointly gather information, examine issues on a regional basis, and formulate their joint findings and recommendations. Meetings were held in Guangzhou and Beijing (December 2008), Hawaii (March 2009), Xining, Qinghai province (July 2009), and Colorado and California (October 2009). During each of the meetings, committee members benefited from the help of state/provincial and local government agencies, local industries and electric utilities, and local universities and research laboratories. This report has been prepared on the basis of those visits, the information provided during the public meetings, publicly available data and academic literature, and the professional expertise of the U.S. and Chinese committee members. The report attempts to provide side-by-side comparisons where possible, but in sections where more information or data were available on the United States than on China, the committees decided to present this additional information rather than omit it. This is particularly true for information on resource assessments in China, and so the additional information on experience in the United States should be instructive as China improves its own capacity in this field.

This study did not examine in detail the trade, intellectual property, and economic competitiveness issues that are an important dynamic of the U.S.-Chinese bilateral relationship. The committees acknowledge in several places in the report that these issues have a bearing on U.S.-Chinese cooperation in renewable energy, but the committees do not provide any specific recommendations on trade or intellectual property matters, which are outside the scope of the report. The study also does not explicitly examine the effect of climate change legislation, in the form of an economy-wide cap or tax on greenhouse gas emissions, on bilateral cooperation in renewable energy, although it does describe how these mechanisms could affect the market for renewable power. Such legislation, or a global agreement to reduce emissions, would eventually influence the structure and timing of some cooperation, but as the report notes, cooperation has been ongoing for many years and is motivated by a range of factors.

We hope that the resultant report is of value to decisionmakers in both countries, as well as to a broader international audience. We face many challenges in scaling up electricity generation from renewables, and we acknowledge that renewables represent one portion of a larger, diverse portfolio of energy options.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. 2010. The Power of Renewables: Opportunities and Challenges for China and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12987.
×

But it is our hope that international cooperation in this field, between the United States, China, and the global community, can help accelerate progress toward a cleaner energy future.

We were honored to serve as chairs of these distinguished committees, and we compliment the U.S. and Chinese committee members for their efforts throughout this study process.


Lawrence T. Papay

U.S. committee chair

Zhao Zhongxian

Chinese committee chair

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. 2010. The Power of Renewables: Opportunities and Challenges for China and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12987.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. 2010. The Power of Renewables: Opportunities and Challenges for China and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12987.
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Acknowledgments

We wish to thank the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Policy and International Affairs, the U.S. Department of State, the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, the George and Cynthia Mitchell Foundation for Sustainability Science, Google.org, the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Engineering Directorate, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Chinese Academy of Engineering for their financial support of this project.

The committees also wish to thank the many individuals and organizations who so graciously hosted us and organized site visits for us as part of our bilateral meetings. On the Chinese side, we would like to thank the Development and Reform Commission of Guangdong Province, the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Guangzhou Institute for Energy Conversion, Guangzhou Xingfeng Landfill Gas Recovery and Electricity Generation Plant, Nanbo Group Co. Ltd., Guangdong Fivestar Solar Energy Co. Ltd., Camda New Energy Science & Technology Co. Ltd., Guanting Wind Power Plant, Badaling Solar Thermal Power Station, Tianwei Yingli New Energy Resources Co. Ltd., Baoding Huayi Wind Turbine Blade Research and Development Co. Ltd., Qinghai Province Department of Science and Technology, Asia Silicon (Qinghai) Co. Ltd., Qinghai Huagui Energy Co. Ltd., Qinghai Suntech Nima Solar Power Co. Ltd., Qinghai New Energy Group Co. Ltd., Qinghai Institute of Salt Lakes (CAS), and Zhuangkuo Solar Valley.

On the U.S. side, we would like to thank the Governor’s Office of the State of Hawaii, the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, Hawaiian Electric Company Inc., U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), the University of Hawaii, Hilo, Hawaiian Electric Light Company Inc., Puna Geothermal Ventures, Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority, SunPower

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. 2010. The Power of Renewables: Opportunities and Challenges for China and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12987.
×

Corp., Parker Ranch, Mauna Lani Resort, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the University of Colorado, Boulder, and Southern California Edison.

This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Academies’ Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report:

Robert Bower, Device Concept Inc.

Kelly Fletcher, GE Global Research

Yu-Chi Ho, Tsinghua University

Jin Hongguang, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Shi Pengfei, Chinese Renewable Energy Society

Ouyang Pingkai, Chinese Academy of Engineering

Mark Pinto, Applied Materials, Inc.

Pedro Pizarro, Southern California Edison

Gerald Stokes, Brookhaven National Laboratory

Richard Swanson, SunPower Corporation

William Wallace, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Zhou Xiaoxin, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Wang Zhongying, National Development and Reform Commission

Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Maxine Savitz (retired), Honeywell, Inc. Appointed by the National Academies, she was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

Page xiii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. 2010. The Power of Renewables: Opportunities and Challenges for China and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12987.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. 2010. The Power of Renewables: Opportunities and Challenges for China and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12987.
×

3

 

TECHNOLOGY READINESS

 

63

   

 Wind Power,

 

64

   

 Solar Photovoltaic Power,

 

68

   

 Concentrating Solar Power Systems,

 

72

   

 Biopower,

 

74

   

 Geothermal Power,

 

77

   

 Hydropower,

 

79

   

 Modernizing the Electricity Grid,

 

81

   

 Findings,

 

86

   

 Recommendations,

 

88

4

 

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF RENEWABLE ELECTRICITY GENERATION

 

89

   

 Fossil Fuel vs. Renewable Electricity Generation,

 

90

   

 Project-Scale Impacts and Regulation for Renewable Energy,

 

102

   

 Findings,

 

108

   

 Recommendations,

 

111

5

 

RENEWABLE ENERGY POLICIES, MARKETS, AND DEPLOYMENT IN CHINA AND THE UNITED STATES

 

113

   

 Renewable Energy Policy in China,

 

114

   

 Renewable Energy Policy in the United States,

 

119

   

 Comparison of Energy Policies,

 

126

   

 Potential Constraints on Deployment,

 

131

   

 Financing an Expanded Market for Renewables,

 

139

   

 Near-Term Priorities to Support Deployment,

 

140

   

 Findings,

 

146

   

 Recommendations,

 

149

6

 

TRANSITIONING TO A SUSTAINABLE ENERGY ECONOMY

 

151

   

 Moving toward Integrated Systems,

 

151

   

 Transforming the Energy System,

 

157

   

 Future Scenarios,

 

164

   

 Findings,

 

171

   

 Recommendations,

 

172

7

 

U.S.-CHINESE COOPERATION

 

175

   

 The Basis for Collaboration on Renewable Energy,

 

175

   

 Overview of U.S.-Chinese Cooperation

 

176

   

 Barriers to Cooperation,

 

181

   

 Opportunities for Expanding Cooperation,

 

184

   

 Findings,

 

187

   

 Recommendations,

 

189

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. 2010. The Power of Renewables: Opportunities and Challenges for China and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12987.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. 2010. The Power of Renewables: Opportunities and Challenges for China and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12987.
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The United States and China are the world's top two energy consumers and, as of 2010, the two largest economies. Consequently, they have a decisive role to play in the world's clean energy future. Both countries are also motivated by related goals, namely diversified energy portfolios, job creation, energy security, and pollution reduction, making renewable energy development an important strategy with wide-ranging implications. Given the size of their energy markets, any substantial progress the two countries make in advancing use of renewable energy will provide global benefits, in terms of enhanced technological understanding, reduced costs through expanded deployment, and reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions relative to conventional generation from fossil fuels.

Within this context, the U.S. National Academies, in collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE), reviewed renewable energy development and deployment in the two countries, to highlight prospects for collaboration across the research to deployment chain and to suggest strategies which would promote more rapid and economical attainment of renewable energy goals.

Main findings and concerning renewable resource assessments, technology development, environmental impacts, market infrastructure, among others, are presented. Specific recommendations have been limited to those judged to be most likely to accelerate the pace of deployment, increase cost-competitiveness, or shape the future market for renewable energy. The recommendations presented here are also pragmatic and achievable.

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