This year, China has been repeatedly named as the nation that is leading the worldwide race to developing renewable energy practices. In less than a decade, China has pushed past nations like Germany, Spain, and the United States and has taken over the renewable energy market.
China aims to have wind, solar, and biomass energy to be able to generate 8% of its electricity by 2020, more than twice as much as its generation capability today. Earlier this month China finished building their first offshore wind farm and, according to Keith Bradsher from The New York Times, is making strong efforts “to build nuclear reactors and the most efficient types of coal power plants.” Meanwhile, the United States has yet to begin construction on its first offshore wind farm. According to New Energy Finance, China is on its way to manufacture 39% of turbines sold worldwide and 43% of solar panels sold worldwide, surpassing other countries in becoming the world’s largest manufacturer of wind turbines and solar panels. With multinational renewable energy corporations investing in and transferring their operations to China, according to the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association, renewable energy industries are adding 100,000 jobs per year in China.
Many credit the effort of the Chinese government to focus on energy policy for the strides China has made in the industry. For example, the 2005 Renewable Energy Law was passed by the Chinese government requiring power companies to use renewable sources to generate a certain amount of electricity. By creating policies and incentives such as charging a high fee for those who use electricity, the Chinese government encourages the development of renewable energy practices. Though some states in the US have developed their own renewable energy policies, without a clear national policy or support for clean energy American companies, then demand for alternative energy practices will not be promoted.
Even though being number two in the worldwide race for renewable energy is not as bad as it sounds, if the United States does not begin to pursue renewable energy practices more aggressively, then soon the US could fall to the number three spot, and then number four, and so on. Like President Obama stated in a State of the Union speech at the beginning of this year, “I do not accept a future where the jobs and industries of tomorrow take root beyond our borders – and I know you don’t either.”