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Friday, January 25, 2013

U.S. And China Investing In Each Other’s Clean Energy Tech

In this November 2010 photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, workers check on solar panels in Yulin, northwest China's Shaanxi Province. (Liu Xiao/Xinhua/AP)

In this November 2010 photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, workers check on solar panels in Yulin, northwest China’s Shaanxi Province. (Liu Xiao/Xinhua/AP)

The political rhetoric from Beijing and from Washington is about a war over leadership in renewable energy.

Energy expert Jeffrey Ball is pictured in China.

Energy expert Jeffrey Ball is pictured in China.

In his inaugural address this week, President Barack Obama said, “we cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise.”

But energy expert Jeffrey Ball says behind that war of words, U.S. and Chinese investors are actually rushing to make deals and invest in each other’s firms.

Ball says it’s a sign that renewable energy is coming of age.

Global investment in renewable energy has surged over the last 10 years. More than $250 billion was invested in 2011 – six times the total investment of 2004.

Ball says the industry is now at a point where it’s possible to begin thinking seriously about scaling up to the levels that would be needed to take renewable energy from a niche to a mainstream source of the world’s energy needs.

Articles by Jeffrey Ball

Wall Street Journal: Beneath a War of Words, Money Paints a Different China-U.S. Picture
Foreign Affairs: Tough Love for Renewable Energy (free access until mid-March)
Slate: How To Make a Bundle on Energy Efficiency
Slate: Want Cleaner Coal? Go to China.

Ball speaks before the World Affairs Council of Northern California on Jan. 22, 2013:


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  • X-Ray

    From what I’ve seen, much more money and value is going to China in the form of purchases and investments than is coming to the U.S. in energy areas.

  • JPS

    Compliants concerning the cosmetics of wind and solar farms are clearly the result of a decadent mentality and wield no academic sway.

  • JeanBruce

    How did Germany beat us out?

    • BAM

       Political will and FIT tariff programs

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Oregon-Stream/100002120209443 Oregon Stream

     The potential problem with Jeff’s thoughts is that countries like China can to a large extent address pollution problems with scrubbers and other technology. They don’t necessarily need to abandon oil & coal and oil as their main energy sources anytime soon, and actually they’ve been increasing their imports of fossil fuels from the U.S.

    Climate change may so far be a subtle issue in temperate regions (like the slowly heating pot in which the frog sits). And it lacks a sense of urgency because many people are poorly informed about the lagged nature of climate change and it’s potential for acceleration. That might be in part be due to poor, unscientific media coverage (including on the WSJ editorial pages), but in any case it’s an argument for directly addressing the rapid buildup of fossil CO2 in some way.

  • Mtoffgrid

    When talking to “energy experts” you always have to ask where they get their info and WHO pays their salary, that determines what you get out of them. I work in the renewable energy field and know for a fact that a; wind will never, never be able to provide more than a token amount of the energy used chiefly by cities and industries, b; that PV will never be able to provide even a fraction of what wind can provide and c; that is the current trend toward large server farms (cloud computing) where all data is kept online, then we will never be able to catch up, since these facilities alone consume the output of about 100 nuclear power plants currently according to DOE. There are many technical reasons why this is true but it really has nothing to do with technology, it is basic physics, in that no matter how large your cable, you have transmission losses and with the climate getting ever more severe and with wind farm chiefly in high wind areas in the west and coastal, they will be severely degraded in the coming years. Further, they have to build three wind turbines to get the output of one (capacity factor of 30%) so it would take over 1500 1megawatt turbines to cover a 500 megawatt coal fired plant. In terms of subsidies, wind would cost about $ 0.50 per kwh with the same subsidy level as coal or gas plants. It is always better to make power locally with small facilities than to transmit power for hundreds of miles. This person is living in a dream world or he is unfortunately believing his own PR. In short, hogwash. We make ALL our own power from wind and solar and know the technology very well.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Oregon-Stream/100002120209443 Oregon Stream

      Although ultra high voltage lines and sophisticated storage systems might help with a grid that isn’t going away anytime soon, inefficient consumption is the big thing that society (full of vested interests) finds hard to address. And sometimes I get the impression that some of those entrenched in fossil fuels have found a new line of argument: That the world is doing enough, and soon we’ll miraculously wake up to a world that’s mostly renewable power and 80% lower carbon intensity. Little mention of the work required, or that the fossil fuel industry won’t just roll over. Renewables have to compete, and in a system in which subsidies aimed at giving them a hand up are somewhat fickle.

      • http://www.facebook.com/cjmahoney72 Colin Mahoney

        and in a country that subsidizes both oil and coal at about 10 times the rate of renewables.  MToffgrid talks alot about competing on a per kW basis, but when renewables are competing with an industry (coal) that’s deeply subsidized, it’s kind of an unfair playing field, no?

  • Mtoffgrid

    One more thing, you want to clean up the power grid and stop co2, stop being American energy hogs, get rid of the 6000 jets in the air polluting every second and make car mfg get 100mpg cars to the market.

  • Generalbusinessboston

    I think companies like Viridian are one of many answers on how consumers can do their part instead of waiting for others. Check out http://www.viridian.com/ezgreenlving.com 

  • http://www.aussiebatteriessolar.com.au/ Aussie Batteries and Solar

    Clean technology includes recycling, renewable energy (wind power, solar power, biomass, hydropower, biofuels), information technology, green transportation, electric motors, green chemistry, lighting, Greywater, and many other appliances that are now more energy efficient.

  • http://www.shalsaa.com/ shalsaa website

    The social liberalism in the party stems from the start of the 20th Century when the Liberal party were bringing about many reforms, known as Liberal reforms which are often viewed as the creation of the modern public welfare system in the UK.

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