The Renewable Energy Rivalry

There’s been a great deal of concern expressed over the past couple of months about the rising influence of China. President Barack Obama’s decision to meet with the Dalai Lama in February, China’s repeated rumblings over the valuation of China’s currency, the rumbai, China’s subtle threats to slow down their purchasing of U.S. Treasury securities, and tensions over U.S. arms sales to Taiwan have all served to increase tensions between the two powers.

But here’s one you might have missed. According to the Guardian’s Datablog, Chinese investment in renewable energies in 2009 was almost twice that of the United States. Chinese investment totaled more than U.S. $34.6 billion, compared to $18.6 billion in the United States. The United States still out produces China, but just barely, 53.4 gigawatt capacity in the U.S., 52.5 gigawatts in China. It appears the Chinese government is serious about its 20 percent by 2020 target, which it set last year.

The dramatic expansion of Chinese investments in renewable energies is particularly interesting given the inability of the United States and China to reach a common agreement at the climate change talks in Copenhagen earlier this year.

The Pew Report from which the data comes makes for some interesting analysis. Among those things which you might not have guessed:

  • Investment in renewable energies in the United States fell by 40 percent in 2009.
  • Globally, more than $162 billion was invested in clean energy production in 2009.
  • The G-20 countries collectively account for more than 90 percent of global investment in renewable energy.
     
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