[LINK] China greens energy rapidly
stephen at melbpc.org.au
stephen at melbpc.org.au
Sun Jan 31 18:43:15 AEDT 2010
Despite blocking Stockholm, and rare-earth sales, China appears serious
regarding developing & deploying domestic, and world, green energy tech.
For example, quote: *China's top leaders are intensely focused on energy
policy: on Wednesday, the government announced the creation of a National
Energy Commission composed of cabinet ministers as a "superministry" led
by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao himself.*
"China Leading Global Race to Make Clean Energy"
By KEITH BRADSHER Published: January 30, 2010
TIANJIN, China China vaulted past competitors in Denmark, Germany,
Spain and the United States last year to become the worlds largest maker
of wind turbines, and is poised to expand even further this year.
China has also leapfrogged the West in the last two years to emerge as
the world's largest manufacturer of solar panels. And the country is
pushing equally hard to build nuclear reactors and the most efficient
types of coal power plants.
These efforts to dominate renewable energy technologies raise the
prospect that the West may someday trade its dependence on oil from the
Mideast for a reliance on solar panels, wind turbines and other gear
manufactured in China.
Most of the energy equipment will carry a brass plate, "Made in China"
said K. K. Chan, the chief executive of Nature Elements Capital, a
private equity fund in Beijing that focuses on renewable energy
President Obama in his State of the Union speech last week, sounded an
alarm that the United States was falling behind other countries,
especially China, on energy. "I do not accept a future where the jobs and
industries of tomorrow take root beyond our borders and I know you don't
either," he told Congress.
The United States and other countries are offering incentives to develop
their own renewable energy industries, and Mr. Obama called for
redoubling American efforts. Yet many Western and Chinese executives
expect China to prevail in the energy-technology race.
Multinational corporations are responding to the rapid growth of China's
market by building big, state-of-the-art factories in China. Vestas of
Denmark has just erected the world's biggest wind turbine manufacturing
complex here in northeastern China, and transferred the technology to
build the latest electronic controls and generators.
"You have to move fast with the market," said Jens Tommerup, the
president of Vestas China. "Nobody has ever seen such fast development in
a wind market." Renewable energy industries here are adding jobs rapidly,
reaching 1.12 million in 2008 and climbing by 100,000 a year, according
to the government-backed Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association.
Yet renewable energy may be doing more for China's economy than for the
environment. Total power generation in China is on track to pass the
United States in 2012 and most of the added capacity will still be from
China intends for wind, solar and biomass energy to represent 8 percent
of its electricity generation capacity by 2020. That compares with less
than 4 percent now in China and the United States. Coal will still
represent two-thirds of China's capacity in 2020, and nuclear and
hydropower most of the rest.
As China seeks to dominate energy-equipment exports, it has the advantage
of being the world's largest market for power equipment. The government
spends heavily to upgrade the electricity grid, committing $45 billion in
2009 alone. State-owned banks provide generous financing.
China's top leaders are intensely focused on energy policy: on Wednesday,
the government announced the creation of a National Energy Commission
composed of cabinet ministers as a "superministry" led by Prime Minister
Wen Jiabao himself.
Regulators have set mandates for power generation companies to use more
renewable energy. Generous subsidies for consumers to install their own
solar panels or solar water heaters have produced flurries of activity on
rooftops across China.
China's biggest advantage may be its domestic demand for electricity,
rising 15 percent a year. To meet demand in the coming decade, according
to statistics from the International Energy Agency, China will need to
add nearly nine times as much electricity generation capacity as the
United States will.
So while Americans are used to thinking of themselves as having the
world's largest market in many industries, China's market for power
equipment dwarfs that of the United States, even though the American
market is more mature. That means Chinese producers enjoy enormous
efficiencies from large-scale production.
In the United States, power companies frequently face a choice between
buying renewable energy equipment or continuing to operate fossil-fuel-
fired power plants that have already been built and paid for.
In China, power companies have to buy lots of new equipment anyway, and
alternative energy, particularly wind and nuclear, is increasingly priced
Interest rates as low as 2 percent for bank loans; the result of a
savings rate of 40 percent and a government policy of steering loans to
renewable energy have also made a big difference.
As in many other industries, China's low labor costs are an advantage in
energy. Although Chinese wages have risen sharply in the last five years,
Vestas still pays assembly line workers here only $4,100 a year. (snip)
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