When most people think of China and energy coal generally comes to mind, indeed China is the world’s biggest user of coal for energy. That may not change anytime soon but what the Chinese government is doing now is expanding their renewable power and becoming the world’s largest exporter of renewable technology. We can all benefit from increased use of renewable energy even if it just offsets new coal power plants from being built.
China has also leapfrogged the West in the last two years to emerge as the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels. And the country 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.
China’s top leaders are intensely focused on energy policy: on Wednesday, the government announced the creation of a National Energy Commission composed of cabinet ministers as a “superministry” led by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao himself.
Regulators have set mandates for power generation companies to use more renewable energy. Generous subsidies for consumers to install their own solar panels or solar water heaters have produced flurries of activity on rooftops across China.