China Clean Energy JUCCCE Interview

Clean Energy in China with JUCCCE

Part I: Chairperson Peggy Liu gives some background on JUCCCE (Joint US-China Cooperation on Clean Energy) and their green operations within China. JUCCCE General Manager O Koo joins Peggy to fill in some of the finer details on JUCCCE’s individual ongoing programs, including a push to distribute 10 million free energy efficient light bulbs.
Part II: JUCCCE Chairperson Peggy Liu gives an overview of the environmental situation in China and the methods that JUCCCE, as an NGO, is undertaking to push the green movement here forward.

The video can be viewed here.

Interview Transcript:

If you can give us a brief background on JUCCCE and when it was formed and what it stands for?

JUCCCE stands for Joint US China Cooperation on Clean Energy, we are a non-profit in China that’s trying to bring international expertise to accelerate the greening of China. It was formed in April 6th, 2007 out of a conference called MIT Forum on future of energy in China.

Q: How big of a foothold does JUCCCE have right now in China? And can you give us a background into the type of initiatives you are involved in.

JUCCCE has people in Shanghai, Beijing, U.S., we have executives, volunteers, and a team of strategic advisors. Even though we are only a year old, the footprint is quite large. That includes the likes of McKinsey, Richard Branson from Virgin, Train, Owens Corning, to Margie Yang of Esquire, people from government, industry, media, research, all walks of life. People who have the resources to help, and are very motivated to help tackle the climate change problem.

Q: O is working on a specific program for JUCCCE, can you tell us a little about what it is that you do?

It’s about reducing green gases in China, particularly CO2, the question is a lot of people want to do something for the environment but don’t know how, so here we come up with a project to empower the individual to do something about it. And this is basically the light bulb changing, using compact fluorescent to exchange for incandescent light bulb.

Q: What’s been the reception thus far from the companies you’ve worked with, your clients, and even the people you’re trying to educate here?

I’ve been blown away by the response we’ve been getting internationally, people that want to volunteer, people who want to work with us, and O should talk about his unique background. The governments on both sides are very eager to support us, companies are very eager to do the right thing and learn how to go green. We are very lucky we have the support of some very high level people from around the world. And they have all helped us with the comprehensive roadmaps of programs we have developed in conjunction of the experts we have brought in.

Q: And O, as Peg mentioned, can you give us your specific background?

I worked for General Electric for a number of years, and I was actually leading the lighting group for Asia-Pacific, and at that time environment was a big concern of mine personally. And I felt there’s something more I needed to do as an individual, so after I met Peggy last year, we had talked about doing different things, but we’ve realized there’s synergies in terms of what I wanted to do, in terms of empowering the people, social people, and doing something differently for the environment, and also working with JUCCCE to put this thing together.

Q: What kinds of difficult challenges have you faced?

I think when you look at China, people think about the scale of the country. McKinsey is coming out with a report on the urbanization of China that says basically in the next 20 years, we’ll have 1 billion people living in China, and that means 350 million people will be moving into Chinese cities. They estimate we will have 15 mega-tropolises of 60 million people or more, what that means is we’re going to have a very condense populations that are all competing for the same resources. The same drinking water, which is very polluted right now; the same basic energy resources, so energy prices will go up, they will be competing for food, which means if we have bio fuels, which is a renewable sources, that’s going to affect the food prices as well, so how do we build eco-cities that will sustain this type of population growth and this type of condensed population. So the scale is the number one issue.

How do we take a pilot program, which O is working on, and distribute 10 million light bulbs and distribute them to students in one city, and how do we take that to other cities in an economical feasible way to buy these bulbs and distribute them, so that’s the challenge we face, to come up with programs that make sense in terms of how we fund them, what are the channels we can address to get these programs implemented locally, how do we share leanings.

What I like to tell people is that China is a very interesting country where the central government level, they have really changed their way of thinking, and they have now become one of the most progressive countries in the world I believe. From banning plastic bags in supermarkets June 1st, to the 11th 5 year plan, which is coming up, even the 10th 5 year plan, there is a lot of ambitious central level policies, unlike other countries like the U.S.

The main challenge we are facing here in China is creating the energy workforce we can deploy and implement all these policies because policies are only as good as how you implement them. So China will be facing a huge challenge in the next 10 years, so we have a 10 year time frame in combating and mitigating climate change. That means we have a very short amount of time to build this energy workforce. For example, if we were able to give free solar panels to everyone in China, it’d take a lot of time to deploy those panels, because we don’t have roofers, electricians, contractors, green procurement folks, designers, the full supply Chain of people who know how to implement these types of programs, and the same is true of any type of supply whether it’s solar, bio-fuels, or the grid, for distributing transmitting the electricity, or demand-side management, building the materials.

Q: Can you give us a background on how long term these plans for China are and what these plans are?

With every issue you need to take a look at the positive and negative side. For example, somebody was just talking to me about how we can stop new coal fire power plants from being built in China. My answer is simply that there’s no way we can stop building coal fire power plants. However, whenever someone says the statistics of two new coal fire power plants being built every ten days or so, they don’t also give credit to China for closing down the thousands of small inefficient plants; they are very conscientiously doing that. The central government is very conscientious about harmonious society, I guess in American terms, that translates to continued GDP growth, provide everybody in China with basic drinking water, energy, and food at a reasonable cost. The Chinese government is actively drafting a new energy law, every level of the government is trying to figure out how they can within their territory affect how China is using energy, so I think you have to give China credit.

A lot of stuff is happening here at all sorts of levels, the industry is being led by MMCs, as far as going green, at different levels, some industries have already very conscientious about what it means to take your supply chain green, they are doing it one step at a time. For example, Esquire, which is a leading textile company, a manufacturer, they’ve done many things to green their supply chain. Another company working in the paper industry is very eager to go green but their questions are what does green mean? So there’s a lot of awareness building that we’re dealing with here in China. But we have to give the credit to China to give attention on how they can do the right thing, then the question is how can we provide them with the resources, the best practices, what are people already doing? What can we implement? Who are the vendors from around the world that have the technology, the services, and the products that we can bring in locally, at a reasonable cost? How can we finance this?

Putting that all together in simple term key manner is key for these people who are making these large decisions are important for the JUCCCE program. It’s education, awareness building, leadership development, collaboration, meaning share leanings across the country, and what we’re really focused on is in the next 10 years, how can we build and enable this energy workforce, how can work on programs that have impact, like O’s program, which will have immediate impact with switching of the light bulbs and awareness building, and how we leave a legacy where we’re building local capability. So if JUCCCE leaves in 10 years, we will already have taught the fisherman how to fish.

Q: Can you give us some background on some of the other programs JUCCCE is involved with in China?

Our programs are all to help teach the fisherman how to fish; to build local capability. We want to do this across China, so we work with key channels of decision makers. So as an example, we are trying to work with the ministry of construction, which has invited us to a 2 day course on city level energy efficiency program for mayors, with the mayor-training center in Beijing, so this is mandatory meeting that all mayors must attend. So what we want to do is bring in experts from around the world that we work with, like Rob Watson, father of Plead. Build a database of city-level case studies, for example street level congestion pricing, it could be lighting, for example, it could be working with hospitals to do energy efficiency, that together with vendors and funding solutions, so that the mayors can follow-up with programs that are appropriate for their state of development. SO the mayors are the kings of the kingdom locally, every decision they make have huge impact, so we want to be enabling the local leaders; that is leadership development.

Another program we are trying to get off the ground is Smart Grid Initiative, this is important because 2/3 of energy is lost during the time of generation and use, so by the time it creates an ice cube, in your glass, 2/3 of energy is lost, which is tremendous waste, so what we want to do is cut down on that wastage by making that grid intelligent, by making every part of the grid communicate with each other so that it can balance the load. The smart grid is something that is an integrated plan that China needs to work on by bringing multiple different parts of the government together, the government, the grid, private companies, the people who are working in transmission distribution, appliances, buildings, plug-in hybrid, all need to work together to establish a communication standard.

So JUCCCE as a non-profit is in a unique position to bring people together to have this dialogue to start the debate, to start thinking about how do you define this smart Grid to China. We’ve brought in Diane Grudnick, the commissioner of California public Utiliies commission, Steve Papermaster, the energy committee of culture on science and technology, we’ve brought in VC’s, smart metering companies to put together reports that we can bring to government leaders, this is something that’s a long term program, but if we can be successful in starting the dialogue to drive a national smart grid plan, this will tremendous impact beyond our tenures.

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