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Energy Foundation CEO Eric Heitz: Building a 'Beautiful China'

Updated: 2014-10-10 15:58
By ZHENG XIN (China Daily USA)

For Eric Heitz, CEO and co-founder of the Energy Foundation, a partnership of philanthropic investors promoting cutting-edge clean energy, China's future in energy efficiency is pure gold.

"The past 15 years that the foundation has been helping China meet its energy challenges and preserve the country's environment have witnessed an absolute transformation in China's work on clean energy," said Heitz.

Heitz received the National Friendship Award of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Sept 29, the highest honor the Chinese government bestows on foreign experts who have made outstanding contributions to China's economic and social progress. Some 50 foreign experts receive the National Friendship Award each year.

"China has gone from not being a leader in many of these areas (energy efficiency and new energy) to being a top leader in almost all of the areas of clean energy now."

And, he added, the future is bright.

The Energy Foundation China, the Chinese office of the 23-year-old foundation that uses targeted grants to support clean-energy technologies and policies, was launched in 1999 in an attempt to help China preserve its environment by promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The largest overseas foundation dedicated to energy and environment has so far helped raise more than $200 million in contributions supporting clean energy programs in China over the past 15 years.

The organization has supported more than 1,560 clean energy programs in eight energy-consuming sectors, including transportation, buildings, industry, electric utilities and renewable energy, in cooperation with more than 440 organizations, including policy research institutes, academies, think tanks, standardization bodies and NGOs.

According to Heitz, the progress China has made in energy use and efficiency in the past 15 years has been huge, and it is the country's ambitious policy, good leadership and worldwide expertise that help create the market.

Taking the China National Institute of Standardization as an example, he said when they first began they had all that international experts coming over so that China could learn from them; but now all those international experts are coming to visit CNIS because China knows how to do it better than any of them, Heitz said.

It's the same in the case of windmill and solar manufacturing. Before 2006 China had no industry in the areas, but in less than 10 years China has become the largest wind and solar manufacturer in the world.

"These are the areas where ambitious policy and good leadership help create the market," he said.

Cleaner energy and energy efficiency also brings more benefits for the Chinese, including cheaper energy, the economic benefits of reduced energy use and less pollution, he said.

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