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Monday, July 06, 2009

With $17.6b Project, China Surges Forward on Wind

By Johanna Peace. Originally posted at Breakthrough Generation

China's massive public investments in wind and other renewable energy technologies are edging the rapidly developing nation into the lead in the global clean energy race.

By mid-July, China will begin construction of a massive wind farm project in the northwestern Gansu province, at a total cost of US $17.6 billion. It will be China's biggest wind power station yet; according to local Development and Reform Commission official Wu Shengxue, it will reach an installed capacity of 20 GW by 2020. Eventually, the wind power capacity of the area is projected to reach 40 GW.

This development is the latest in what has recently been a major push by the Chinese to expand renewable energy use. Soon, Chinese officials are expected to reveal a new renewable energy stimulus plan of US $44-$66 billion per year over ten years, which will focus much of its resources on wind power. Under the plan, China will be on track to reach 100 GW of wind power capacity by 2020--more than eight times its current level.

By contrast, the American Clean Energy and Security Act invests only $6-12 billion per year in clean energy. As for the US "green stimulus," it includes a one-time clean energy spending boost of $112 billion--just half of China's $221 billion stimulus investment in green initiatives. Here's a sense of scale: If US investments in clean energy were on par with the Chinese in terms of percent GDP, we'd be spending $140-210 billion per year.

Right now, the US maintains an edge in wind power, with about 25 GW of installed capacity to China's 12 GW. But China has been at least doubling its wind power capacity each year for four years, and last year, China was second only to the US in added capacity.

Clearly, China is positioning itself to pull ahead as a leader in wind power and other renewable energy technologies. The major reason is a government commitment to substantial and sustained clean energy investment. The US needs to take note of this model, or watch its already razor-thin edge in clean energy tech getting thinner every day.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

OK, let me try to put this in simple terms, China is a dictatorship.

If you believe wind power is the way to go, then the environmental community needs to get its act together and quit opposing efforts to expand capacity.

Look at Senator Kennedy and the wind projects in Mass.

Also, unions in California are blocking solar projects (and I believe wind also) unless they use union labor.

The US government can encourage investment, improve the grid (see Popular Science) and this will help. Don't be afraid of the free market, it can fix the problem and improve the government budget through taxes.