Rocky Mountain Institute, China eye energy efficiency
August 8, 2013
If you go …
What: Rocky Mountain Institute Summer Lecture Series: “Reinventing Fire: China”
When: 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Hotel Jerome Ballroom
In 2012, China burned 4.05 billion tons of coal — more than the rest of the world combined. Without any intervention, within the next 40 years, China will have increased that annual number by 80 percent, projections show.
To combat that trend, the Rocky Mountain Institute has teamed up with Beijing-based Energy Research Institute for a two-year study that will look at China's energy plan between now and 2050.
"China is very much looking for solutions right now," said Jon Creyts, director of the study, "Reinventing Fire: China," which began in June. "There's a tremendous amount of pressure publicly on how they're going to manage resource consumption and environmental impacts."
According to Amory Lovins, the study's chief scientist, China is now improving energy efficiency by 4 or 5 percent a year, while the U.S. is improving 1 or 2 percent a year.
"When you're growing as fast as their economy is, it's much easier to build things right rather than fix things later as we have to do," said Lovins, who will discuss the study with Creyts at 4:30 p.m. Friday at the Hotel Jerome.
Collaborating with RMI is an advisory board in China, which will include several co-authors of China's 13th Five Year Plan, an outline of the country's social and economic development initiatives.
Lovins says those who have stake in Aspen's ski culture should be especially interested in the topic because China, the world's largest emitter, will have a direct effect on the ski industry.
China and the U.S. together account for 38 percent of global energy use and 45 percent of global carbon-dioxide emissions. Lovins said the countries can learn at lot from one another.
"A young, dynamic society like ours has a lot to learn from an ancient — that in ways is incredibly dynamic — society like theirs," Lovins said.
Preliminary results for the study are expected in the spring, with findings that Creyts hopes will determine the most practical policies in achieving higher renewables and a more efficient future for China.
"If we really want to tackle this issue, not only are these the direct, two largest players — particularly on the issue of carbon — that are going to have to manage their emissions internally, but they're also going to have to export the solutions," Creyts said.