Can the U.S. Catch Up to China in the Clean Energy Race?
- Dec 13, 2019 10:19 am GMT
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LOS ANGELES (PRWEB) December 13, 2019
The Global Commission on the Geopolitics of the Energy Transformation recently reported that China is the largest producer, exporter, and installer of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, and electric vehicles in the world. With Japan in second and Germany in third, the United States ranks fourth.
China is making significant strides in the race, leading in renewable energy technology patents, having the largest electric vehicle market, and taking advantage of high-speed rails. These steps seem simple to tackle, but the U.S. has a long way to go if they want to claim the throne in these areas.
The reason China is so ahead is because they are not afraid to take massive steps. They offer citizens large subsidies for purchasing electric vehicles, and wave fees for electric vehicle owners. The city of Shenzhen, which has a population of 12.5 million people, runs a 100 percent electric vehicle bus fleet and is converting 22,000 taxis to electric vehicles. These efforts are likely the reason they produced about 3x as many electric vehicles as us in the last year.
In addition, their high-speed rail offers an energy-efficient option for their inhabitants. They have the largest high-speed railway in the world, with 19,000 miles of track (compared to the U.S.'s 500 miles of track, which is also much slower).
America has made attempts to take the solar industry from Asia in the form of Tariffs. The hope with the recent tariffs on imported solar technology is that American companies will be forced to use existing domestic manufacturers, or create new factories. Despite these tariffs hurting the solar industry in the short-run (with reports claiming that 62,000 jobs were lost as a result) they could help us in the long run.
Since the announcement of the Tariff, the U.S. industry has responded by attempting to increase manufacturing efforts. SunPower acquired SolarWorld Americas and began P-Series solar panel manufacturing in its Oregon plant. LG Solar built a module plant in Huntsville, Alabama to produce 500 megawatts of the company's N-type solar panels annually.
Marketing Director of Green Solar Technologies, Jorge Ricalday, is excited to see more American-made products in the industry. "Green Solar Technologies is partnered with LG Solar, who now manufactures modules in Alabama, and we're proud to provide American-made panels to our customers and support the growing industry. Hopefully the increase in American-made solar products will lead to more domestic manufacturing plants and will benefit the U.S. solar industry over the next few years, giving us a leg up in the race."
Considering our size and economic power, the United States should be further ahead in the clean energy race. But in order to make headway, we may need to look towards China's strategies. We could increase funding for renewable energy research, or match China's annual investment in public-private partnerships. In 2016, China spent $126 billion on renewable energy investments, whereas we spent just over $40 billion.
Catching up to China in this race can definitely be considered healthy competition, as the prize is getting us closer to a carbon neutral world. This competition can motivate us to continue working to bring our world one step closer to the goals of the Paris Agreement. With enough renewable energy initiatives, it's possible.