The governor of the US state of California Jerry Brown has been in China heading up a delegation of more than 100 business leaders, amid hopes the state, which by itself is the world’s ninth largest economy, can source cheaper electric car batteries.
In the last week, the group has met with premier Li Keqiang, held talks with the Ministry of Commerce, visited Tsinghua University for a dialogue on energy innovation and low-carbon development, and travelled to Shanghai to see projects including public buses powered by new energy.
Delegation member and chair of the California Energy Commission Bob Weisenmiller said that the state was on a mission to promote renewable energy and better cooperation with China on clean technology
He said California was looking to promote smaller electricity grids to realise more flexible electricity storage and distribution, the use of electric vehicles and bioenergy, carbon trading and carbon taxes and a battery technology R&D centre established to bring down electric vehicle battery costs.
Weisenmiller said he would welcome Chinese battery makers to California, mentioning leading electric vehicle developer, the privately-owned BYD, in particular, as the state seeks to reduce the cost of electric cars.
Governor Brown echoed this point in his speech at Tsinghua, saying that California’s goal to have one million electric vehicles by 2025 depends on the Chinese making affordable high-quality batteries.
Li Junfeng, director of the National Centre for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, told chinadialogue
that California equipment-makers hope to break into the Chinese market, while the state also wants China to provide cheap labour and lax environmental regulation
to complement the innovative and technological strengths of Silicon Valley battery-makers – in much the same way China’s factories have cut manufacturing costs for Apple.
California is America’s largest state economy and home to one-third of its ethnic Chinese population. It also recently started a cap and trade system in an attempt to incentivise industry to reduce carbon emissions.