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By the Numbers: China, the U.S., and Clean Energy Deployment

Published July 7, 2011

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China Leads in Deploying and Benefiting from Clean Energy Technologies

China isn’t just the best at making clean energy technologies, it is also the best at using them. As a result, China will be less reliant on fossil fuels – resources that the rest of the world is all competing for. This means greater energy independence for China, while the U.S. remains reliant not only on overseas oil, but also on Chinese exports.

1,242 GW the total electric capacity China is expected to have installed by 2020.1 This is a 38% increase over its 2010 installed energy capacity of over 900 GW.#

150 GW the additional wind, solar, and biomass energy capacity China is expected to install between 2010 and 2020 based on its recently-released 12th Five-Year Economic Plan.2 The U.S. is projected to install only 19 GW between 2009 and 2020, or 87% less than China.3

Consistent with China’s plan to deploy 7.6 times the amount of clean energy in 2020 as it had in 2009, renewable energy sources are expected to provide approximately 15% of China’s electricity generation.4

China Implements National Policies to Encourage Its Nascent Energy Markets

While the demand is rising for clean energy technology, China has decided to speed up its developing market by strategic policy initiatives aimed at spurring greater investment into energy technologies. While the U.S. continues to limp along without a national energy policy, China is striving to create a domestic market for clean energy knowing that will lead to its companies having greater strength in the international market.

40%-45% reduction in carbon intensity mandated by China by 2020 under a national consumption cap implemented as part of its 12th Five-Year Plan.5

16% China’s five year energy intensity reduction goal.6

$14.20 amount of China’s implicit price on pollution, based on policies encouraging the deployment of clean energy and discouraging the continued deployment of conventional fuels.7 China is expected to implement a pilot program that puts an explicit price on carbon between 2011 and 2015.8 $5.10 amount of the United States’ implicit price on pollution, based on similar criteria.9

42.2 miles per gallon. China’s nationwide fuel economy standard for vehicles by 2015.10 The U.S. requires that a 34.1 mpg standard be met by 2016, though the Administration recently proposed an increase to 56.2 mpg by 2025.11

72 GW total capacity of inefficient plants shut down by China resulting in a more competent and effective Chinese energy fleet.12

15% China’s required production of electricity from renewable energy by 2020.13

China Provides Its Energy Industries Startup and Operating Capital

$114.1 billion: Total Chinese public and private capital investment in clean energy in 2009, while total United States public and private capital investment in clean energy, excluding temporary Recovery Act funding, was $21.1 billion.14

$35 billion in finances provided by the China Development Bank to private firms for clean energy in 2010 while the United States’ Federal Financing Bank provided only $2 billion.15

$54.4 billion Chinese private investment in clean energy in 2010, compared with $34 billion of private investment in the U.S.16

China’s Energy Successes from Its Investments

One out of every 2 wind turbines installed in 2010 were installed in China.17 China installed three times as much wind power capacity during 2010 as the United States (18.9 GW vs. 5.1 GW).18

44.7GW China’s total installed wind capacity in 2010.19 It surpassed the U.S., which had 40.2 GW of installed wind capacity, making China the largest wind market in the world.20

43%: Share of global nuclear projects in 2009 under construction or developed in China.21

  • 25: Number of new plants under construction in China, leading to an expected tenfold increase in capacity to 80 GW by 2020.22

  • 4: Number of new plants now expected to be constructed in the U.S. by 2020.23

3: Number of advanced fast reactors planned to begin construction in China, with the first two planned to be started by 2013.24

  • 0: The number of next generation nuclear reactors planned for construction in the U.S.25

50 GW China’s stated goal for total installed solar capacity by 2020.26 The U.S. has no stated national goal for installed capacity by 2020.

8,358 km operating distance of high speed rail (greater than 200 km/hr) in China at the end of 2010. The country is planning to add an additional 16,000 kilometers by 2015.27 The U.S. only had 1,270 km (789 miles) of what is technically high speed rail at the end of 2010.28

  1. United States, Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, “International Energy Outlook 2010,” p. 271, July 2010. Accessed June 8, 2011. Available at: http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/ieo/pdf/0484%282010%29.pdf.

  2. “The China GreenTech Report 2011,” The China GreenTech Initiative, 2011, p. 73. Accessed June 27, 2011. Available at: http://www.china-greentech.com/report.

  3. United States, Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, “Renewable energy generating capacity and generation,” Annual Energy Outlook 2011, April 2011, p. 146. Accessed June 7, 2011. Available at: http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/pdf/0383%282011%29.pdf.

  4. United States, Congress, Senate, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, “Current Global Investment Trends in Clean Energy Technologies and the Impact of Domestic Policies on That Investment,” Testimony, By Neil Z. Auerbach, 112th Congress, 1st Session, March 17, 2011, p. 8. Accessed June 27, 2011. Available at: http://energy.senate.gov/public/_files/AuerbachTestimony03172011.pdf.

  5. “China sets energy cap,” Commodities Now, March 4, 2011. Accessed June 8, 2011. Available at: http://www.commodities-now.com/news/environmental-markets/5286-china-sets-energy-cap.html

  6. United States, Congress, House of Representatives, Committee on Energy and Commerce, “The Transformation of China’s Energy System: Challenges and Opportunities,” Testimony, By Deborah Seligsohn, 112th Congress, 1st Session, April 4, 2011, p. 1. Accessed June 27, 2011. Available at: http://republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/Media/file/Hearings/Energy/040411/Seligsohn.pdf.

  7. “Putting a Price Tag on Pollution,” The Climate Institute, October 14, 2010. Accessed June 8, 2011. Available at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/theclimateinstitute/5082116607/.

  8. Mark Fulton, “12th Five-Year Plan—Chinese Leadership Towards a Low Carbon Economy,” Report, Deutsche Bank Group, April 4, 2011, p. 5. Accessed June 27, 2011. Available at: http://www.dbadvisors.com/content/_media/China_12th_Five_Year_Plan.pdf.

  9. “Putting a Price Tag on Pollution.”

  10. Keith Bradsher, “China is Said to Plan Strict Gas Mileage Rules,” The New York Times, May 27, 2009. Accessed June 27, 2011. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/28/business/energy-environment/28fuel.html.

  11. Phil LeBeau, “White House Wants 56.2 MPG by 2025, but Auto Industry Says Not So Fast,” CNBC, June 27, 2011. Accessed June 27, 2011. Available at: http://www.cnbc.com/id/43548797.

  12. Seligsohn, p. 6.

  13. United States, Congress, Senate, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Testimony, By Kelly Sims Gallagher, March 17, 2011, p. 3. Accessed June 27, 2011. Available at: http://energy.senate.gov/public/_files/GallagherTestimony03172011.pdf.

  14. Bill Rapp, “Betting on Clean Energy,” Infographic, Third Way, November 11, 2010. Accessed June 27, 2011. Available at: http://www.thirdway.org/publications/349.

  15. Gallagher, p. 10

  16. “Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race?” Report, The Pew Charitable Trusts, 2011, p.3. Accessed June 8, 2011. Available at: http://www.pewenvironment.org/uploadedFiles/PEG/Publications/Report/G-20Report-LOWRes-FINAL.pdf?loc=interstitialskip.

  17. “China Invests $10 Billion in Wind Energy Technology,” Solar Thermal Magazine, December 5, 2010. Accessed June 8, 2011. Available at: http://www.solarthermalmagazine.com/2010/12/05/china-invests-10-billion-in-wind-energy-technology/.

  18. “China adds 18.9 GW of new wind power capacity in 2010,” Global Wind Energy Council, June 4, 2011. Accessed June 8, 2011. Available: http://www.gwec.net/index.php?id=30&no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=287&tx_ttnews[backPid]=4&cHash=c5a5b5659f; See also “Industry Statistics,” American Wind Energy Association, May 10, 2011. Accessed June 8, 2011. Available at: http://www.awea.org/learnabout/industry_stats/index.cfm.

  19. “China adds 18.9 GW of new wind power capacity in 2010.”

  20. “Industry Statistics”; See also “China updates wind figures: 18.9 GW in 2010,” U.S. China Energy Cooperation Program, April 7, 2011. Accessed June 8, 2011. Available at: http://www.uschinaecp.org/publications/detail/454.

  21. “International Energy Outlook: 2010,” p. 90.

  22. “Nuclear Power in China,” World Nuclear Association, May 2011. Accessed June 8, 2011. Available at: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf63.html.

  23. “Nuclear Power in the USA,” World Nuclear Association, May 24, 2011. Accessed June 8, 2011. Available at: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf41.html.

  24. “Nuclear Power in China.”

  25. While the U.S. has in place the Next Generation Nuclear Plant project still in development, there is broad consensus that this high temperature reactor is unlikely to be developed unless an agreement can be made on cost-sharing between the federal government and private industry.

  26. William Pentland, “China Doubles Solar Target, Bubble Likely,” Forbes – Clean Beta, Blog, March 9, 2011. Accessed June 27, 2011. Available at: http://blogs.forbes.com/williampentland/2011/05/09/china-doubles-solar-target-bubble-likely/.

  27. China GreenTech Report 2011,” p. 160.

  28. “The Case for Business Investment in High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail,” American Public Transportation Association, February 2011, p. 4. Accessed June 8, 2011. Available at: http://www.apta.com/resources/reportsandpublications/Documents/HSRPub_final.pdf.

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