Study: China Beats U.S. for the First Time in Clean Energy
April 23, 2013 11:41 AM
China is spending nearly three times as much on clean energy as the U.S.
Whether it's the
, China has either surpassed the U.S. or is expected to surpass the U.S. in many sectors. According to
a new report
[PDF] by the non-partisan
Pew Research Center
, clean energy is no exception to this trend; 2012 marketed the first year China assumed the title of king of clean energy, bumping the U.S. down the stack.
The U.S was clean energy's "biggest loser", according to the Pew report, with American clean energy investment (which excludes research and development spending) falling to $35.6B USD in 2012 -- a 37 percent plunge. That fall helped trigger an 11 percent decline in global spending, which dipped to $269B USD in 2012.
Meanwhile in China the opposite was happening. Owing to the strong growth, Asia's clean energy sector grew 16 percent as the global market contracted. Buoyed by China, clean energy investment in the sector soared to $101B USD last year -- 42 percent of the global total.
Fueled by China, Asia became the top clean energy region in 2012. [Image Source: PRC]
The Pew report comments:
The competition among countries for clean energy leadership is resulting in a reshuffling of the old order. In 2012, China advanced its position as the epicenter of clean energy finance, attracting $65.1 billion in investment, 20 percent more than in 2011 and an unsurpassed 30 percent of the G-20 total. It garnered 25 percent of all solar energy investment, setting a one-year record with $31.2 billion invested. China also accounted for 37 percent of all wind energy investment ($27.2 billion) and 47 percent of the investment in the “other renewable energy” category ($6.3 billion) that includes small hydro, geothermal, marine, and biomass.
All told, 23 GW of clean energy generating capacity was installed in China in 2012.
Although the United States invented many of the leading clean energy technologies, it continues to underperform in investment and deployment relative to the size of its economy and its history in the field.
China has been
spending big on nuclear
solar power installations
Chinese windmills turn on a hillside. [Image Source: Thinkstock]
Aside from China, developing nations also showed strong growth. Nations outside the pack of the world's twenty richest nations -- the so-called Group of 20, or G-20 -- saw roughly $20B USD in green energy spending, a 50 percent rise. Solar and other technologies are increasingly being considered to provide low-cost power in remote regions.
Speaking of solar, that's one bright spot amid the general decline in investment. With heavy investment in small, residential projects, solar only declined 1.6 percent to $76.8B USD in 2012. A record 3.2 gigawatts (GW) of solar power was installed in the U.S. last year. Residential solar saw a 42 percent growth.
The U.S. and others have long cited China
as the world's biggest polluter
. Now it can revel in the distinction of being the "greenest" power-producing superpower.
Pew Research Center [PDF]
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