China holds lead in clean energy
Today while flying from Hong Kong to Paris I read a very interesting article in the New York Times (which I subsequently found online here). The premise of the article is that the clean energy industry is growing by leaps and bounds, costs for solar panels and wind turbines are going down, and that millions of jobs are being created. Yet although everyone agrees the world needs more clean energy, due to a complex maze of World Trade Organization (WTO) rules regulating subsidies, not everyone is happy about how this growth is occurring.
It is no surprise that China wants to be a major player in the clean energy field. For starters, with its large population that is increasingly becoming wealthier and using more and more energy, renewable and clean sources of energy are more important here than almost anywhere else.
From an economic standpoint, China also recognizes that clean energy – solar and wind especially for now – is becoming big business, and they are determined to be a major player. From an education stand point, China simply graduates more engineers each year than anywhere else on earth. The clean energy industry is a perfect landing pad for these smart and hungry university graduates.
To help grow the clean energy industry in China, the central and local governments are increasingly lending support to entrepreneurs who have big plans for massive factories building solar panels and wind turbines. The factory of Hunan Sun-Zone Optoelectronics in Changsha (potentially going IPO in 2012 so keep your eye on it!) is a perfect example. Since the clean energy industry is considered strategic in China, Sun-Zone was able to line up financing and received all permits in 3 months and from there it took only 8 more months to build and equip the factory.
If you’re interested in the details of the clean energy trade and how the industry is shaping up, I thought the New York Times article did a great job of summing up the current situation. Here is the link.