China Roundup: China Turns to Drones for Pollution Monitoring, Farming

China is embracing drones for a wide range of sustainability-related applications, the South China Morning Post reports.

In the industrial city of Dongguan, for instance, regulators are using sensor-equipped drones to monitor air pollution from factories and to identify and punish those that exceed limits. The drone program is credited with reducing the number of smoggy days in the city from 104 in 2015, just before the drones started flying, to just 12 in 2016.

Meanwhile, in the agricultural zones of Northern China, farmers are using drones to spray pesticide on their fields. Drones use less fuel and are far more precise than using traditional crop-dusting airplanes, both of which save money.

“Old Chinese farmers drive tractors. Modern Chinese farmers fly drones,” a farmer tells the SCMP.

China Tech Giant Tencent Invests Heavily in US Cleantech

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Tencent, the Chinese internet giant, has quietly been making inroads into the U.S. clean tech sector. The company, best known for its WeChat messaging application, owns 5% of Tesla and has been making investments in clean tech start-ups focused on everything from food security to air quality monitoring, the Straits-Times reports. Tencent is known to have invested some $1.9 billion into four sustainability-focused start-ups. Through its Palo Alto-based venture capital arm TenX, the company will make further investments in companies that work on water, air and food quality.

New Incubator for Sustainability, Energy Efficiency Formed in Singapore

A venture capital arm of a Singaporean university is creating a corporate incubator aimed at supporting sustainability and energy efficiency projects. Techbridge Ventures, a subsidiary of Nanyang Technological University, is working with Hong Kong electronics manufacturer PC Partner to establish InnoPartner. The new venture will “provide a one-stop holistic package for Asia’s innovators to successfully commercialize and bring their innovative ideas to market,” says Ho Voon Yee, CEO of Techbridge Ventures.

Renewable Energy Gets Huge Boost from China’s Belt-and-Road Program

China’s Belt and Road Initiative has been a boon for renewable energy projects, with investments in such projects exceeding expectations last year. Economies linked to the Belt and Road program saw $7.7 billion in power generation investments in 2016, more than double the total from a year before. Hydropower and other renewable energy program received 48% of that $7.7 billion, with thermal power receiving the second-most at 21%. Belt and Road is a Chinese economic development strategy that focuses on cooperation among Eurasian countries.

Chinese, UK Companies to Bring Renewable Energy Ideas to Market

Shanghai-based Shenergy — one of China’s biggest energy companies — will work with the UK’s Cambridge Technology Capital Partners to bring new clean tech ideas to market. Under the terms of a memorandum of understanding the two companies signed, Shenergy will build an “International Energy Innovation Centre” in Shanghai that will serve as a hub for developing and testing new green energy ideas. The two companies will also work with Business Big Data, a Chinese firm that runs a business accelerator program in London.


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