For example, according to US figures, by 2020 China plans to spend nearly $200 bn to increase renewable energy use to 15 per cent of total supply as well as reduce the energy that its buildings consume by 65 per cent.

India meanwhile plans to boost its power generating capacity by 100 gigawatts (GW) over the next 10 years, including 10 GW from renewable sources.

'Critical role'

George Bush, the US president, used his State of the Union speech this month to emphasise the "critical role" for American technology and innovation in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy need

"We have seen amazing growth in the economies of both India and China that has led to a great need for additional energy in these countries, and we expect this trend to continue"

David Bohigian,
US Commerce Department

Announcing the mission to China and India, the US Commerce Department said the visit would push a broad range of technologies such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and "clean" coal.

David Bohigian, assistant secretary at the US Commerce Department, said American companies had developed innovative clean-energy products and that their deployment in India and China would have "dramatic effects on the environment not only in these countries, but around the world."

"We have seen amazing growth in the economies of both India and China that has led to a great need for additional energy in these countries, and we expect this trend to continue," Bohigian said.

He said the environment and US industry would benefit from the forthcoming mission to China and India.