The state visit by Chinese president Hu Jintao to the United States has prompted a raft of agreements boosting trade and c-ooperation between the two countries in the energy field.

At a ceremony held in Washington DC, US energy secretary Steven Chu announced the signing of a joint work plan to expand US-China co-operation on the Clean Energy Research Centre (CERC), a $150 million initiative launched in 2009 to advance the development of energy efficiency, clean vehicles and clean coal technology in both countries.

Hu’s visit has also been marked by a number of commercial agreements between Chinese and US companies such as GE and AEP.

“This joint work between the United States and China demonstrates the great potential for co-operation on clean energy,” said Sarah Forbes, senior associate with the World Resources Institute (WRI), a member of CERC. “As the world’s largest energy consumers and producers, the United States and China recognize that advancing clean energy technology is essential to reduce greenhouse gases and other pollutants, and to enhance energy security.”

Also in Washington, D.C., GE announced a deal with Chinese coal and energy company Shenhua to create an industrial coal gasification joint venture to advance the development of clean coal solutions in China.

Under the deal, which requires regulatory approval, the joint venture company would sell industrial coal gasification technology licenses, develop integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) facilities and conduct research and development to improve cost and performance of commercial scale gasification and IGCC solutions.

“Shenhua has deep experience in developing and operating coal gasification and coal-fired power generation facilities in China, including the Shenhua Baotou coal to olefins facility which uses GE’s gasification technology,” said Zhang Xiwu, chairman of Shenhua Group Corporation Ltd. “Collaboration between our two companies in this joint venture will create a gasification technology business in China with significant local presence, focus, resources and expertise.”

AEP, meanwhile, has signed co-operation agreements with two Chinese companies to advance transmission, distribution and cleaner power generation technologies, including carbon capture and storage (CCS).

The CERC initiative will facilitate joint research and development on clean energy technology by teams of scientists and engineers from the US and China. The five-year work plans signed by Chu and Chinese Ministers Wan Gang and Zhang Guobao identifies the members of the bilateral teams in each research area, and also provide a road map to move the work forward.

“As the United States and China embark on a new level of clean energy cooperation, this initiative is a prime example of practical, real world engagement that will accelerate knowledge sharing and advancements in clean energy technology,” said Forbes.

AEP’s deals with China Huaneng and State Grid Corporation of China would “bring together some of the best engineering talents on the globe to evaluate and advance clean energy technologies”, according to Michael G. Morris, AEP chairman and chief executive officer.

“By sharing knowledge and expanding the clean energy focus of the two largest energy consuming economies, we can accelerate progress and enable both of our nations to benefit from a cleaner, more reliable, and more secure energy future,” added Morris.