As I posted a few years ago, so many of the best opportunities for cleantech to have immediate benefit can be found in China.
Every day, evidence accumulates supporting this thesis. Of course, this winter’s air pollution crises in Beijing and other cities made global news. More gruesome was last week’s discovery of nearly 7,000 dead pigs floating in a river outside Shanghai.
The true extent of environmental abominations in China is unknown. As this article indicates, the Chinese government guards a substantial body of data about environmental quality — and the Chinese citizens are getting increasingly angry about what they know they don’t know.
To the extent that there is good news to report, it is that China has clearly become a prime destination market for clean technologies to penetrate.
The Pew Charitable Trusts commissioned a recently-released study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance indicating that the balance of trade between the U.S. and China on three key segments of cleantech — wind, solar and smart grid — actually tilts more to China than from China. This finding conflicts with conventional wisdom, which holds that cleantech exports from China to the U.S. must be dominating the balance of trade, as illustrated by the widespread evidence of Chinese companies dumping low-cost solar panels onto U.S. markets.
For years, knowing how vast the opportunity is, I’ve been trying to figure out how to better facilitate promising clean technologies in entering China to make a big environmental impact (and, of course, do well commercially and financially in doing so). Of course, I’m not alone, and others have acted while I pondered: organizations such as JUCCCE and the US-China Clean Tech Center have arisen in the past few years to offer their services. I guess they’ve been able figure out what I couldn’t: a clear strategy and compelling business model for serving as a conduit for cleantech dissemination into China from outside China.