Environment

Renewable race

New report puts China ahead

It may be producing more carbon dioxide than any other country, but it could also be “winning the clean energy race”, according to a new study. The Pew Charitable Trusts’ research found that China spent nearly double its nearest rival on renewable energy. It invested $34.6 billion last year on technologies like wind, solar, and hydroelectric power, compared to $18.6 billion by the US.

China is still second place in terms of ‘installed capacity’ of renewable energy infrastructure, with 49.7 gigawatts of renewable power to the USA’s 52.2 billion.

But that’s unlikely to stay the case for long. “Countries are jockeying for leadership,” explains Phyllis Cuttino, director of the Pew Environment Group’s global warming campaign, “They know that investing in clean energy can renew manufacturing bases, and create export opportunities, jobs and businesses.”

Political commitment to renewable power in China remains strong, with the Beijing leadership wary of relying on dwindling supplies oil and coal to fuel economic expansion.

Consequently, its increased China’s renewable targets for the energy sector. The National Development and Reform Commission has set a goal of generating 10% of China’s energy from renewable sources this year, and 15% by 2020.

Subsidies, state directed lending and other favourable policies have played a big part in the growth of the investment completed last year. Of course, there are still the concerns that some of it may not have been spent as efficiently as hoped. There are already complaints being made about overcapacity in wind turbine construction, for instance. Others point out that a number of the new wind farms aren’t even connected to the state electricity grid.

Foreign companies’ share of China’s renewable energy pie could still grow too, as planners try to attract the latest technologies and fend off accusations of protectionism.

Policy documents for the current stimulus campaign originally stipulated that 70% of new wind turbines be made domestically, but that rule was recently scrapped amid complaints from multinational manufacturers.


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