Trump’s opportunity with China

Can the two countries pursue common global interests?

Donald Trump is clearly not constrained by carefully calibrated norms and practices that have governed U.S.- China policy. Was the telephone call with Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan, a thoughtless gaffe, or carefully calculated?

What is clear is that a Trump administration offers the world’s leading economies enormous opportunities for the pursuit of self-interest. Trump as master builder can, crucially, become a partner with China under leadership by President Xi Jinping in building the global renewable energy infrastructure.

Donald Trump is much more businessman and dealmaker then ideologue. On the one hand, Trump threatens to undermine the global Paris consensus on combating climate change that will have catastrophic global consequences for all. On the other hand, the Trump administration will launch major infrastructure projects on a trillion-dollar scale and embrace public-private partnerships to encourage private investment and ownership of profitable infrastructure projects. Trump also wants to renegotiate trade deals with China. 

This is a way forward. A phone call can be arranged.

China and the U.S. can support enormous profitable investment in the construction and operation of interconnected continental energy supergrids, the solar, wind, storage resources to feed them, and the electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The opportunity and essential global need is to build the 21st century sustainable infrastructure and make economic growth mean ecological improvement.

High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) power lines will bring renewable energy from where it is generated and stored to where it is used. On a continental scale, renewable energy resources are largely self-balancing. When the wind is calm in the east, it blows in the west. The sun shines in one area while it has set in another. In Europe and North Africa, HVDC networks are being constructed. China State Grid Corporation is becoming a leader in HVDC construction. California is pursing HVDC integration.

The opportunities for global renewable energy investment can be aggressively pursued without mentioning carbon regulation and climate change. What’s needed is not talk, but action and profitable investment.

Building HVDC networks plus the solar electric PV and concentrating solar systems, wind generation, hydro, geothermal and energy storage resources to feed into grid systems, is what’s needed. The supergrids will be combined with a growing number of smart high efficiency micro grids.

The renewable electric world will require comprehensive construction of electric vehicle charging infrastructure and electric vehicles. China is the global leader in construction of lithium battery giga-factories, as well as PV and wind generation.

China, by working with the United States, Europe and other OECD members on a global investment effort on supergrid, renewable construction, electric vehicle infrastructure and high-speed internet construction, the result will mean a combination of global economic growth, poverty reduction and slashing carbon emissions.

This is the opportunity for a program to pursue ecological global economic growth and to make economic growth mean ecological improvement. This is the opportunity for China, the United States and the world under a Trump administration.

Zero fuel cost renewables characterized by ever-shrinking capital costs will win the market battle with polluting fossil fuels. The key now is to craft public-private infrastructure plans to mobilize global capital in engaging in these most profitable investments that will generate trillions in revenue and save civilization from ecological self-destruction.

This is likely to be too good an offer and opportunity for President Trump to turn away from. These enormous renewable energy infrastructure and device projects will be key to following a path toward building a global ecological civilization. 

Roy Morrison’s latest book, Sustainability Sutra, is forthcoming from Select Books in March 2017. 

Categories: Opinion