Saturday, 29 January 2011

China - powering the way ahead for a renewable future?

China has now overtaken the USA as the country with the largest amount of installed wind power capacity. It is also manufacturing increasing quantities of solar photovoltaic (pv) panels. Just as installation rates of wind power falls off in the USA (because the incentives for wind power fail to counteract the decline in natural gas prices in the USA), so the Chinese are rapidly increasing their installations of wind power.  It is being done through a 'feed-in tariff' system (a real feed-in tariff system - not the version that the UK Government are considering which restricts wind development - see earlier blogs). This will bring down the cost of wind power plant as Chinese companies increasingly provide competition to western wind turbine manufacturers. This will reduce the prices of wind power generally around the world.

The Chinese manufacture of solar pv has also massively expanded and resulted in big declines in the costs of solar pv. Not good news for the German based pv manufacturers that have done so well recently, but very good for the solar technology in general as it becomes more competitive with conventional fuels. So how is the West reacting? Well, the USA is just letting its renewable energy industries waste away. The UK is deciding to give a lot of its incentives to nuclear power rather than renewables (see earlier blogs). And people in the West worry that one day they will become uncompetitive with China.......

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