The Industrial Dragon Takes on Green Energy

What will China’s increased investment mean for the US?


China covered the equivalent of one soccer field every hour with solar panels in 2015. It also installed an average of more than one wind turbine every hour of every day, according to Greenpeace statistics. And it appears to be aiming for domination of one of the world’s fastest-growing industries.

Chinese manufacturing changed the economics of renewable power. With dizzying production rates, it brought down costs and made solar generation more competitive with fossil fuel generation. And then it began installing vast fields of silicon panels and wind turbines.

“It’s about setting up for manufacturing dominance,” Antung Liu of Indiana University Bloomington told National Geographic. “China sees green energy as an opportunity where it can become a manufacturing monster the way it has in clothes and toys.”

The country recently announced plans to derive 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, and to spend more than $360 billion in achieving that goal. The investment will reportedly create over 13 million jobs in the sector.

Many cite air pollution as a motivating factor in this decision. As a result of China’s rapid industrialization, the country has suffered from choking pollution. Statistics show that 1.1 million Chinese people die from illnesses related to air contamination each year. Concerns about the social and economic costs of air pollution have increased recently as parts of the country have dealt with weeks of unbearable smog.

A New York Times piece points out that the timing of the Chinese investment intersects with the Trump administration’s decreased commitment to renewable funding. It infers that green energy jobs that might have been created in the US may go instead to Chinese workers. Several industry insiders have expressed concern that by not placing priority on reducing carbon emissions with alternative generation sources, the US risks losing ground in the renewable energy race.

What are your thoughts? What priority should the US place on developing alternative energy sources? DE_bug_web

  • Wind turbines aren’t lowering co2 emissions and never will. There has to be baseload power and subsidies for the industry to survive. We should be concentrating on making gas and coal more efficient, and embrace nuclear, hydro and biomass. Wind and solar are so polluting in their manufacture and decommissioning they can never make up the difference considering how variable wind and sunshine are. Look at the disaster even a 15% concentration of renewables has been in Southern Australia. Companies are fleeing because of the high power prices.

  • Jedediah.

    Nuke and coal advocates that criticize wind always point to “baseload” or capacity factors as if these factors do not exist with nuke or coal when touting their agenda. They also conveniently ignore the tremendous amounts of water required in nuke/coal fuel cycles. They conveniently ignore overburden cost. It is difficult to obtain the energy cost of extracting and shipping these fuels because they are hidden by DOT. As far as polluting during de-commissioning…are you kidding? Radioactive waste from the nuke cycle is piling up in parking lots because there is no storage. Every towel, wrench, hazmat suit, hardhat, etc., etc., related to nuclear cycle must be compressed, tested and interned in VERY expensive storage facilities, that frankly, most states do not want. Regarding coal’s environmental cost, when was the last time a mountain of overburden from wind power sloughed off into a pristine watershed (e.g. West Virginia) or killed communities with polluted groundwater.

    Baseload power is attenuated by natural gas-powered facilities and another renewable energy source: hydro. To imply that wind power is polluting, is laughable. Nuke and coal power are dying and mis-information trolling will not save them.

  • Jimmy.

    Hydro mentioned twice. Hmmmm…maybe it’s an idea that isn’t all wet after all.

  • Clint White.

    Baseload is a false dilemma with storage tech ramping up. There are tens of ways to store energy efficiently, and when it requires no additional inputs to gain the energy it matters less if the storage efficiency isn’t 100%. In time our grid will change; unfortunately, we will already have lost the world market in green tech. Thanks, Drumpf!
    The Mental Environ

  • Henry Lee E.

    I firmly know that there is a need to continue the efforts in all renewables for the foreseeable future. This will ensure the lowest electric costs for the US. Since there are no coal fired power plants forested or even being thought about for construction in the US, then all other sources of energy must be brought to the forefront and utilized!


Leave a Reply

Enter Your Log In Credentials