Archive for November, 2006


Thursday, November 9th, 2006

In mid-October 2006, I was part of a sixteen member U.S. environmental engineering delegation that participated in the 7th Sino-American Technology and Engineering Conference in Beijing. The conference targeted SO2 and NOx control in China, and we visited two power plants — Datang’s Gaojing plant and Huaneng’s Beijing Cogeneration facility — to see recent flue gas desulfurization (FGD) installations. These are world class pollution control systems, and fully state-of-the-art. China has an enormous air pollution control program underway — more than 200 GW of FGD are currently under construction! — and the plants are also getting ready to install further NOx control as well.

Those of you with sharp eyes might be able to find me in the picture below (seated, front row, second from right). Next to me (on my right) is Dr. Dan Dudek of Environmental Defense, who authored the U.S. market-based acid rain legislation; and three seats over from him is Dr. John Chang of U.S. EPA, who organized our delegation. I presented a paper on recent U.S. pollution control experience, entitled “Pollution Control in the U.S. Power Sector: New Requirements, Costs, and Decisions for Electric Utilities.”

We stayed up at Xiangshan (Fragrant Hills), a resort area northwest of the city, and also found time to visit the gardens in Beijing modeled after those described in the classic novel Dream of the Red Chamber. This is not one of my favorite Chinese novels, but Dr. Chang’s wife Julie (standing immediately above him in the picture) patiently explained to me several layers of meaning in the novel that I had completely missed.

Studious/serious Roger at SATEC

I stayed in Beijing an additional week after the conference for further meetings, including a visit to the Carbon Expo Asia — and was very surprised to run into Naomi Ishiwata and her colleagues there. Naomi runs Perry Johnson Registrars Clean Development Mechanism, Inc. (PJR CDM), a Tokyo-based firm which was an exhibitor at the Expo. Naomi had invited me almost two years ago to become a member of their technical team seeking United Nations’ certification as a “Designated Operational Entity” (DOE) – essentially the auditors who do validation and verification of CDM projects, to ensure that the emission credits generated by those projects are legitimate. We’re now in the final stages of obtaining that certification, and expect it within the next few weeks.

I also had a wonderful day-long visit with Dr. Gong YuYang, a New Jersey colleague who recently established a China office for the Louis Berger Group; and had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Tang DaGang, Prof. Duan Ning, Prof. Zhuang Yahui, and other good friends and colleagues at both CRAES (China Research Academy of Environmental Sciences) and RCEES (Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Sciences).


Thursday, November 9th, 2006

I hadn’t been to Macau in almost twenty years – and needless to say, the changes were quite stunning!! I was told that Macau now takes in more gambling revenue than Las Vegas. I don’t know about such facts, but looking at the place – the lights and casinos and glitter and construction — it’s really hard to argue. It’s certainly not the Macau that I remembered!

Macau Tower Convention Center Although Steve Wynn’s new casino and other attractions were very enticing, I was in Macau for somewhat more mundane purposes. The Energy Bureau of China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and Macau’s Office for the Development of the Energy Sector were holding a two day conference on “Energy and the Road to Sustainable Development,” and I was invited to be the Keynote speaker. I discussed the evolving U.N. framework for addressing energy, as well as critical energy challenges (and opportunities!) that China faces. The conference was held at Macau’s Tower Convention & Entertainment Center — which offered a striking view reaching more than 50 kilometers into the rapidly developing mainland.

Hong Kong

Thursday, November 9th, 2006

Credit: AFP

I was in Hong Kong in October, talking to a variety of organizations (in the government, private sector and NGOs) about the potential future for emissions trading in the city. Hong Kong’s air pollution has deteriorated significantly in recent years, and the government is exploring an emissions trading pilot project with nearby Guangdong Province.

Christine Loh, former HK legislator and now CEO of the public policy think tank Civic Exchange, has been a long time supporter of the concept. While browsing in a bookstore during the weekend before our meeting, I came across her new autobiography, Being Here – a fascinating story about her family’s Guangdong and Shanghai history, early years growing up in the city, and later legislative accomplishments. She graciously signed my copy at our meeting. This seems to be a golden era (quite literally!) for Hong Kong autobiographies — I had just finished Martin Booth’s wonderful Golden Boy (although it’s entitled “Gweilo” in HK).

Making this visit particularly memorable was a chance to see the Tai Hang “fire dragon” parade/dance, a part of the city’s Mid-Autumn festival celebrations. The dragon was about 70 meters long, and had thousands and thousands of joss sticks all lit up along its entire length. The amount of smoke was amazing, and you know (of course) what I was thinking: “I wonder if they have an air pollution permit for this thing?” Given the air quality, I think they needed one!

In addition to the meetings, I also gave a talk about sustainable urban energy systems at the American Chamber of Commerce in the city. It was arranged by Doug Woodring, a Wharton grad who is working on alternate energy systems in HK. You can check out his company at Motorwave Ltd.