China to Hit 500 GW of Renewable Power by 2020

Photo: 林 慕尧 / Chris Lim via Wikimedia/CC BY-SA

Energy hawks -- hell, all of us, really -- have no doubt gotten a little tired of hearing about how much investment China is dumping into clean energy compared to the United States. Yes, we are severely lagging in the renewable sector, and yes, China is poised to eat our lunch in solar and wind -- China has just set a new goal to get 500 GW of renewable power on the grid by 2020. No, we're nowhere near that number -- and we certainly won't be if we continue on our current trajectory. But there's still a lot to learn from China's ambition.Here's Cleantechnica:

China's plan is to get a total of 500 Gigawatts of renewable energy on the grid by 2020. It explodes wind power from a mere 25 GW on the grid now, to a staggering 150 GW, a six-fold increase on the previous already ambitious plan ... Electric power would come from adding 100 GW to make 300 GW of hydro power, adding 125 GW to have 150 GW of wind power, adding 28 GW to have 30 GW of biopower, and going from a half Gigawatt to 20 GW of solar. Giant steps.

To put that in perspective: the US will have added 16 GW of all renewable energy combined once the Obama administration Recovery Act funds are allocated - which, while a fabulous change for us, because it doubles the entire last thirty years of renewables on the grid - pales by comparison with 500 GW.

It's a bold plan. And it makes us look like mere hobbyists on the renewable energy front. But what makes this interesting isn't the fact that the United States is losing out on an opportunity to become leaders in one of the most important industries of tomorrow -- such is the point so often made in an attempt to spur conservative interest in clean energy. No, to me, it's interesting that China, while still a pollution-pumper's paradise, is nonetheless mapping its way to a lower-carbon future. Not only because it's the moral thing to do for the sake of its constituents and the planet (perhaps least because of that), but because it's all but necessary to procure a long-term energy strategy.

Meanwhile, in the US, we can't even seem to get the smallest bump for renewable energy producers off the ground (the Republican party just filibustered an attempt to do so today). Instead, we continue to subsidize coal and oil, and would rather bury our heads in the sand than admit that oil is a finite resource -- or that out greenhouse gas emissions are warming the planet, for that matter. You tell me which outlook bodes for a sustainable future.

More on China and Renewable Energy
China's Stunning New Renewable Energy Standard: 20 Percent by 2020
China Overtakes US as Most Attractive Country for Renewable Energy
China's New Renewable Energy Law Should Be A Wake Up Call For US

Tags: Alternative Energy | China | Clean Energy | Wind Power