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Solar future? Schwarzenegger pitches to China

In China for a trade mission, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday focused on renewable energy and praised a Silicon Valley-designed solar cell as part of the future of energy efficiency.
“This is the future, ladies and gentlemen,” California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told a Beijing audience Tuesday while holding up a small solar panel. Eric Risberg / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger began his three-city China trade mission in earnest by focusing on renewable energy and praising a Silicon Valley-designed solar cell as part of the future of energy efficiency in China and at home.

Schwarzenegger made his remarks in a speech Tuesday morning, a day after a more boisterous ceremonial event where he and his wife, Maria Shriver, were briefly mobbed by unruly photographers and fans.

The Republican governor was introduced by former President Bush, whose public policy school at Texas A&M University was sponsoring a China-U.S. relations conference.

As he has in the past, Schwarzenegger called for more hydrogen-powered cars and said he hoped 20 percent of California’s energy needs would be met by renewable energy by 2020.

“China and California face the same challenges — providing clean, abundant, reliable, affordable energy that will sustain our economies and our environment,” Schwarzenegger said.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that at least one major power plant is completed in China each week — usually fueled by coal, which produces high levels of air pollution.

Schwarzenegger praised the solar cell designed by SunPower Corp. in Sunnyvale, Calif., and manufactured in China as “an amazing China-California success story” that had great potential.

“This is the future, ladies and gentlemen,” Schwarzenegger said, hoisting a small panel made of the solar cells as cameras whirred.

“This is the most efficient solar cell in the world,” he added. “It captures 21 percent of the sun energy that hits it, which is 50 percent more efficient than the average cell.”