PNNL: China can be Northwest's cleantech test bed
By Christina Williams
Editor, Sustainable Business Oregon
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will work with China on clean energy research.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the U.S. Department of Energy lab operated by Battelle in Richland, Wash., is increasingly turning to China for help with its energy-related research and development.
"China is a great test bed," Mike Kluse, PNNL's director, told an audience of business leaders last week.
PNNL, which employs 4,700 people and partners with scores of Northwest companies on technology areas such as smart grid, electric vehicles, alternative fuels and others, announced in July that it was kicking off a joint research effort, called the Clean Energy Partnership, aimed at renewable energy and climate change mitigation.
The effort is just the latest in a string of agreements and memorandums of understanding aimed at joining the U.S. and China efforts on clean energy with PNNL as a hub.
"There's no one laboratory, there's no one university that's going to solve these global problems," Kluse said.
PNNL provides an important link to China for the Pacific Northwest. Partnerships with Chinese institutions have been identified as the only way for U.S. companies to get a piece of China's enormous smart grid market, estimated by researchers at Zpryme to be worth $61.4 billion by 2015.
"China is moving very rapidly," Kluse said. "Look at the number of (Chinese nationals with) PhDs coming out of U.S. universities. They used to stay here to work, now they're going back because there's opportunity in China that wasn't there before."
While that shift isn't surprising, what does worry Kluse is how fast he sees changes happening in China when it comes to clean energy.
"They have a sense of urgency that I don't quite see here in the U.S.," Kluse said.
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