US and Chinese Companies Sign Technology Agreements At Series of Energy Meetings in Beijing

Beijing hosted a series of international meetings over the last week and a half, primarily connected to cleaner coal technologies, but also involving the partners in the US-China Clean Energy Research Centers (CERC), which include clean coal, energy efficient buildings and advanced vehicles. The primary draw to Beijing was a ministerial meeting of the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF), a US-initiated group to advance carbon dioxide capture, use and storage (CCUS), which China hosted for the first time.

Agreement on How to Share Technology

Energy Secretary Steve Chu attended both the CSLF and a steering committee of the CERC. The two governments signed a Technology Management Plan (TMP) for the three centers. The Plan establishes the groundrules on how the research institutions and companies can share technologies involved in and stemming from joint research. Described by the participants as a “breakthrough,” this agreement could provide a new model for the growing body of joint research and could help speed up innovation by bringing major players together more easily.

New Technologies to Reduce Carbon

An innovative US company, LP Amina, also signed an agreement with a Chinese power producer, Gemeng International Energy (GMIE), to build a polygeneration power plant using an innovative new technology development by LP Amina. The deal was developed under the CERC, and will enable a full-scale application of a technology that produces both chemicals and electric power, and by combining these processes (polygeneration) is able to reduce greenhouse gases compared to conventional technology by over 25%.

The LP Amina deal was among the first major outcomes of the CERC, but the CERC Directors said many more are coming soon. In the coal area, these include the modeling of post-combustion capture to enable scientists to better study and develop it, cooperative projects to develop algae as a sink for carbon dioxide and as a fuel source, and studies of coal chemistry to improve its firing efficiency. In the vehicles area, there is on-going work in the full range of advanced technologies from electric vehicles to biofuels, while the buildings group highlighted work on building monitoring, new cooling technologies, ground-source heat-pumps, and building insulation approaches.

Focus on Policy and Technology

The CSLF focused on developing global work plans for further research on CCUS. This year’s meeting was notable for the focus on CCUS. There is growing recognition that using the carbon dioxide in applications is an essential part of the learning curve for moving toward storing CO2 underground. By using the CO2 for applications, mainly advanced oil recovery, the companies develop the pipeline networks, the commercial relations for buying and selling CO2 and experience in pumping CO2 underground. China’s Climate Change Minister Xie Zhenhua, emphasized that CCUS is not mainly a technical problem: “We need both government financing and policy support, in order to develop CCUS.”

Providing the Policy Guidance

Tsinghua University’s BP Clean Energy Research Center, working with WRI, used the CSLF as a platform to release the CCUS regulatory guidelines that Tsinghua has drafted to provide just this kind of policy support in a Chinese context. Drawing on the experience of WRI’s CCS guidelines and the experience of a Chinese and international group of experts, Tsinghua has developed guidelines for government to consider in all aspects of a CCUS program, from initial site selection to post-closure stewardship.

View a press release or read more on China’s recent CCS activities and US-China cooperation on CCS.

Addressing the Challenge of Fossil Fuels

The CSLF provides a multilateral forum for countries to share experience, policy approaches and technology to advance the storage of CO2. The major fossil fuel producers and consumers, whether of coal, oil or natural gas, are active participants. Many took advantage of the Chinese meeting to also advance their bilateral agendas. In addition to the US-China intiatives, Australia and the UK also advanced their government-to-government and commercial cooperation. Both are major supporters of CCUS R&D in China, as well as in their home countries.

Image copyright Trey Ratcliff and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License.