About CERC

Who We Are

The United States and China are the world’s largest energy producers, energy consumers and greenhouse gas emitters. The clean energy sectors in both countries are growing rapidly. The priorities of the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center reflect important areas of opportunity for both countries.

In the United States, more than three-quarters of electricity generated is used to operate buildings. In China, if present trends continue, floor space equal to the entire U.S building stock will be built in the next 20 years. Both countries have large domestic coal reserves and use coal to generate the majority of their electricity (roughly 50% in the US and 80% in China). The two countries are also the world’s largest automobile markets and oil consumers, both importing more than half the oil they consume. Development and deployment of clean energy technologies will play a central role in helping both countries meet energy and climate challenges in the years ahead.

The CERC will also build a foundation of knowledge, technologies, human capabilities, and relationships in mutually beneficial areas that will position the United States and China for a future with very low energy intensity and highly efficient multi-family residential and commercial buildings.

Progress to date:

On November 14, 2009, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Chinese Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang, and Chinese National Energy Agency Administrator Zhang Guobao launched the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center (CERC), which was first announced by President Barack Obama and President Hu Jintao in November 2009. The Center is supported by public and private funding of at least $150 million over five years, split evenly between the two countries.

Five Year CERC Funding Plan

  (Million U.S. Dollars)
  United States China Consortium
  DOE Partners MOST & Partners Totals
5-Yr Totals Advanced Coal $12.5 ≥ $12.5 ≥ $25.0 ≥ $50.0
Buildings $12.5 ≥ $12.5 ≥ $25.0 ≥ $50.0
Clean Vehicles $12.5 ≥ $12.5 ≥ $25.0 ≥ $50.0
TOTAL $37.5 ≥ $37.5 ≥ $75.0 ≥ $150.0

In August 2010, the Department announced its selections of the first two research consortia, led by West Virginia University for Advanced Coal Technology and the University of Michigan for Clean Vehicles. In October 2010, the Department announced its selection for the third research consortium, led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for Building Energy Efficiency.

During President Hu Jintao's January 2011 State Visit to the United States, U.S. and Chinese consortia partners signed five-year Joint Work Plans (JWPs), which outline high-level, mutually agreed upon topics for CERC collaborative research in the years ahead. Following the signing of the JWPs, teams began developing Ten-Point Plans for each CERC research project to ensure mutual accountability for CERC research efforts.

Signing of Joint CERC Work Plans | Front Row (left to right), CERC Steering Committee: Zhang Guobao, Vice Minister, PRC National Reform and Development Committee, and Administrator, National Energy Administration; Steven Chu, Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy; Wan Gang, Minister, PRC Ministry of Science & Technology; Not Shown: Qui Baoxing, Vice Minister, PRC Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development.  Back Row (left to right): Robert Marlay, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Director, U.S.-China CERC; Ouyang Minggao, Tsinghua University, PRC Director, CERC Vehicles; Li Peigen, President, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Representing PRC, CERC Coal; Dennis Assanis, University of Michigan, U.S. Director, CERC Vehicles; Jiang Yi, Tsinghua University, PRC Director, CERC Buildings; Mark Levine, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, U.S. Director, CERC Buildings; Jerald Fletcher, West Virginia University, U.S. Director, CERC Coal; Xu Shisen, Clean Energy Research Institute, Huaneng Energy Group, PRC Technical Program Manager, CERC Coal;  Not shown: Liang Junqiang, PRC Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, PRC Technical Program Manager, CERC Buildings

Signing of Joint CERC Work Plans (January 18, 2011)

Front Row (left to right), CERC Steering Committee: Zhang Guobao, Vice Minister, PRC National Reform and Development Committee, and Administrator, National Energy Administration; Steven Chu, Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy; Wan Gang, Minister, PRC Ministry of Science & Technology; Not Shown: Qui Baoxing, Vice Minister, PRC Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development. Back Row (left to right): Robert Marlay, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Director, U.S.-China CERC; Ouyang Minggao, Tsinghua University, PRC Director, CERC Vehicles; Li Peigen, President, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Representing PRC, CERC Coal; Dennis Assanis, University of Michigan, U.S. Director, CERC Vehicles; Jiang Yi, Tsinghua University, PRC Director, CERC Buildings; Mark Levine, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, U.S. Director, CERC Buildings; Jerald Fletcher, West Virginia University, U.S. Director, CERC Coal; Xu Shisen, Clean Energy Research Institute, Huaneng Energy Group, PRC Technical Program Manager, CERC Coal; Not shown: Liang Junqiang, PRC Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, PRC Technical Program Manager, CERC Buildings

From August to September 2011, Technology Management Plans (TMPs) for each consortium were completed and signed. These TMPs are intended to guide development of CERC project- or IP-specific contracts and address the unique characteristics of each consortia as well as common elements that are shared in the plan framework. In September 2011, a high-level ceremony was held in Beijing to showcase the signing of letters of endorsement of the three TMPs by representatives of the U.S. Department of Energy and the China Ministry of Science and Technology.

The first year of CERC research efforts resulted in improved collaboration and advances in technological development promoted through conferences, publications, and IP filings. Advancements of note include development of CO2 storage models, a comparative building standards tool, and a low-cost design and production method for lightweighting vehicle materials. The U.S.-China CERC Annual Report 2011 provides a summary of these accomplishments.

In January 2013, the Steering Committee met to review achievements and plan next steps. Secretary Chu, Minister Wan, industry partners, and other stakeholders reviewed CERC;s implementation status and the achievements of its three research consortia. The meeting also included a business roundtable for CERC partners and concluded with a Minister-led discussion on the future of the U.S.-China CERC. View presentations from the meeting .

Having completed the second year of its initial five-year plan, CERC serves as a proven model for enhanced cooperation on technology research and development. The Center's three technical tracks together account for 88 projects, support 1,100 researchers, and have 110 partners. An independent review found the Center to be a "milestone initiative" that is "pragmatic" and "win-win." The review indicated that the Center "enables a new kind of relationship, built on mutual trust, understanding, and friendship." The U.S.-China CERC Annual Report 2012 highlights these accomplishments.

In July 2014, the Steering Committee held its 6th meeting to review CERC’s plans and progress to date and to discuss the direction for a possible second phase (2016-2020) of the CERC program. Secretary Moniz, U.S. Ambassador Baucus, Minister Wan, and other senior government officials participated along with CERC technical leaders and business partners. View presentations and meeting summary from the 6th Steering Committee meeting.