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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

China Builds on Lead in 4th Quarter

By Daniel Goldfarb
Originally Published at Americans for Energy Leadership

Just days after Secretary Chu's declaration that America is facing a "Sputnik moment", more proof continues to surface of China's widening lead in the clean energy race. Ernst and Young's quarterly "country attractiveness" index has confirmed that not only is China still the most attractive destination for clean tech investment, as we reported it became for the first time last quarter, its lead is growing.

The warnings of Secretary Chu and the recommendations of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) take on new urgency in light of the report's findings,"A new world is emerging in the clean energy sector with China now the clear leader in the global renewables market". At the same time the LA Times is reporting that clean tech investment in the U.S. fell 45% in the fourth quarter.

It is increasingly becoming clear that what is at stake is jobs. Ernst and Young recognize an increasing disparity in the job creation in those countries that are "in the fast lane" and those that are "hesitant". The focus in China and other emerging countries on their clean energy industries is already bearing fruit, "One striking feature of the post-credit-crunch world is the difference between the pedestrian pace of recovery in the West and the rapid turnaround in the new BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China)".

The wind industry provides a shocking example of China's ascendence. In only two year China has leapfrogged Denmark, Germany, Spain, and the United States to become the world's largest manufacturer of wind turbines, and it doesn't appear to be slowing down:
"China's record spending on its wind industry this quarter represented nearly half of all funds invested in new wind projects around the world," the report states. "Figures released for the second quarter of 2010 showed that China invested around $10 billion in wind out of a global total of $20.5 billion."
It is becoming increasingly clear that we have reached a historic moment, we must decide to invest in America's ability to compete on clean tech, or cede our energy independence and crucial economic growth opportunities. As made clear by PCAST and Secretary Chu, now reiterated by Ernst and Young, to compete for first or even maintain second place we will have to innovate, "Manufacturers in the West need to be particularly innovative if they are to preserve their share of the market."

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