In China there are reports of another goverrnment financial stimulus around the corner. Aimed exclusively at boosting the country’s renewable energy sector, it is variously said to be worth between $440 billion and $660 billion.
The sheer amounts involved, say analysts, suggest that Beijing is thinking seriously about how to make the switch from being the world’s all-purpose (and rather dirty) factory, to becoming a global hub for clean technologies.
It’s also inspiring growing confidence that China will comfortably exceed its target to increase the contribution of renewables in the energy mix from 8% in 2006 to 15% by 2020. That figure includes energy from China’s huge and controversial hydropower projects, such as the Three Gorges Dam.
Now the move is from water to wind and sun.
Wind at present accounts for just 1.5% of the country’s energy, but it’s growing fast: installed capacity has more than doubled each year for the past four, taking China to fourth place in the world wind power league (behind the United States, France and Spain).
Homegrown companies have jumped into a market that was previously dominated by international firms. Goldwind has become the country’s largest turbine manufacturer after it succeeded in licensing advanced technology from a number of specialist companies in Europe.
China has also become the world’s largest consumer of solar water heaters: nearly one in ten households now own one. In Dezhou, in eastern Shandong Province, every house in the new town uses solar heating, along with 90% of homes in the older quarters. Solar PV powers the city’s streetlights and traffic signals.
Pan Jiahua directs the Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the country’s top think-tank. He says that, "China needs to deal with the current crisis, but also to make long-term plans for economic recovery and ongoing development. And that means’ choosing a low-carbon path with improved energy efficiency and a better energy infrastructure".
World Changing reports that all of this expertise in improved energy efficiency has huge export potential.