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China Is Winning Global Race To Make Clean Energy 346

Posted by timothy
from the comparative-advantage-oh-noes dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that China vaulted past competitors in Denmark, Germany, Spain and the United States last year to become the world's largest maker of wind turbines, has leapfrogged the West in the last two years to emerge as the world's largest manufacturer of solar panels, and is pushing equally hard to build nuclear reactors and the most efficient types of coal power plants. These efforts to dominate renewable energy technologies raise the prospect that the West may someday trade its dependence on oil from the Mideast for a reliance on solar panels, wind turbines and other gear manufactured in China."
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China Is Winning Global Race To Make Clean Energy

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  • Congrats! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dunbal (464142) on Monday February 01, 2010 @07:00AM (#30979130)

    These efforts to dominate renewable energy technologies raise the prospect that the West may someday trade its dependence on oil from the Mideast for a reliance on solar panels, wind turbines and other gear manufactured in China.

          Way to miss the point completely. As has been mentioned already, a wind turbine or solar panels can be built anywhere. Oil, however, can only be found in specific locations.

          What this DOES imply is that China will not be a customer purchasing Western manufactured "clean energy" equipment, which in itself is significant when you consider each wind turbine, for instance, costs several million dollars. The less technological equipment they purchase from the West, the more the balance of trade shifts in their favor.

  • by data2 (1382587) on Monday February 01, 2010 @07:45AM (#30979344)

    The new generation of nuclear reactors is completely safe, and disposing of the waste products is a completely solvable problem.

    And yet has not been solved in the past 40 years, as far as I know. Just sayin'

  • by maxume (22995) on Monday February 01, 2010 @08:28AM (#30979586)

    It's disappointing that you are misrepresenting what that books says. First, the numbers presented on the page you link to are only for Britain (other areas have much more abundant solar resources), and the author makes lots of assumptions that are not related to physics as he comes up with the numbers (i.e., he talks about how much area is practical to cover, rather than possible, and he talks about the cost, and so on).

    People living in Arizona can easily extract all the energy they need from the sun. There are people doing it.

    (Of course, I don't think nuclear is a bad idea, especially right now where the main alternative is coal)

  • Re:Congrats! (Score:2, Informative)

    by woolpert (1442969) on Monday February 01, 2010 @08:40AM (#30979644)

    Electricity in TX costs between 9 and 18 cents per kw hour

    Those are residential rates. Commercial rates are lower, industrial lower still, and wholesale - the market wind farms (and other generators) sell into - lower still.

    Once you've paid off the farmer for the land usage rights

    Many perpetual leases are written so that the grantee pays so long as they hold rights.

  • by madeye the younger (318275) on Monday February 01, 2010 @09:31AM (#30979986)

    My dayjob is running a steel plate roller at a wind turbine tower construction company. I speak from first hand experience when I say they are NOT 'easily made anywhere'. Even if that were so, the tower sections are most definately not easily transported anywhere. It is a helluva lot easier to transport the flat steel plate than the completed sections, as there are so many restrictions on oversized loads on roadways.

    The contracts to supply towers go to the construction facilities near the project sites, precisely because the cost of transporting completed sections is so much higher than transporting the materials. The only competition from Chinese towers will be for sites located within spitting distance of a deep water port.

  • by dimeglio (456244) on Monday February 01, 2010 @01:08PM (#30983134)

    Well the Chinese never really approved the use of Melamine in formula nor did they agree to use dangerous chemicals in colour dies for toys. No more than Washington is forcing you to join the Scientology movement. This results in the unscrupulous businessmen who try to cheat the system. China being top exporter and anything manufactured, is bound to have the occasional glitch.
    That being said, when it comes to developing clear energy, the answer has always been nuclear power. It is probably much easier to find a way to deal with radioactive waste than change to a so called greener solution which if you look at the total life cycle, pollutes more and consumer more power. Energy efficiency is a respectable goal but lets not be blinded by apparent short-term gains.

  • by TheNarrator (200498) on Monday February 01, 2010 @03:11PM (#30984882)

    China is not an autocratic system. It's an oligarchy or if your want to flatter them, an aristocracy. The communist party is basically a private club that runs the country by electing officials from within its own ranks to committees that perform various governance functions. The most powerful committee is the central committee but it is by no means autocratic. BTW, all of China's central committee members have engineering backgrounds.

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