Electric buses lead to greener public roads in China

Equipped with 200 lithium batteries, an electric bus can travel 200 km on a single charge at the cost of 1 million yuan ($ 146,453.63). A traditional gasoline-powered bus usually costs about 600,000 yuan to travel 200 km.

"Although the cost of our buses is higher than traditional buses, the government gives a 500,000 yuan subsidy for each bus, which makes it 100,000 yuan cheaper," said Wang Bin, vice president of China Lithium Energy Investment Group.

Large production lines were set up in Tangshan in Hebei province and Liaoyuan in Jilin province. The electric buses have been put into operation in the two cities.

Wang said his company’s monthly production capacity has reached 100 electric buses, and added that bus companies will likely save 180,000 yuan in transportation costs a year with the subsidized buses.

The State Council Development Research Center estimates that China’s transportation fuel needs will increase to 256 million tons per year in 2020, up from 55 million tons in 2000. Developing hybrid and all electric vehicles is key to address urban pollution and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, authorities have said.

China in recent years has emerged as a leading producer of hybrid and all-electric vehicles. The country’s goal is to raise annual production capacity to 500,000 electric cars and buses by the end of 2011 – up from 2,100 last year.

The rapid development of green vehicles is in line with the boom in China’s clean energy sectors. The government has stated that development of clean energy is key to the nation’s target of building an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly society.

As the world’s two leading energy consumers, China is actively seeking partnerships with the United States in developing clean energy.

"China and the United States shared increasingly common interests on tackling climate change and promoting sustainable development, although the two countries have different domestic conditions and are in different development stages," said Vice Premier Li Keqiang when addressing the Strategic Forum for US-China Clean Energy Cooperation, which closed late last month.

Co-sponsored by the Chinese think tank China Institute of Strategy and Management and the US think tank, Brookings Institution, the forum’s primary goal was to find new ways in which Chinese and US researchers, corporations and others can work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The forum preceded next month’s visit to China by US President Obama and the global climate conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Copenhagen meeting seeks international agreement on a treaty to cut greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

"It is not only necessary, but also possible for China and the US to transcend our differences in energy and environmental development strategies and enter into strategic and practical cooperation," Zheng Bijian, chairman of the China Institute of Strategy and Management, said in his keynote speech at the October forum.

Several officials told the forum that they supported US-China partnerships in green energy development. For example, Lu Hao, secretary of the China People’s Congress Committee of Gansu province, said Gansu is eager to work with US companies on smart grid technologies.

Wind power has seen unprecedented growth in Gansu in recent years. With the utilization of smart grid technologies, the province can better use the power generated by wind farms, he said.

Han Changfu, governor of Jilin province, said he wants to work with US partners to develop his province’s rich biomass resources.

Hainan province Governor Luo Baoming said he wants to work with US counterparts on solar power development.

China and the United States signed seven cooperation agreements at the forum. The agreements cover issues ranging from clean coal development to building low-carbon cities.

China’s ambitious wind power plans, as well as national policies to reduce emissions and use water and fuel more efficiently, have created a potential market for US firms that have developed these technologies, US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said last week in Hangzhou during the annual Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) meeting.