The Race for Clean-Tech is On
A new study by the Breakthrough Institute and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation shows that the U.S. could be left behind by Asia (specifically by China, South Korea and Japan) when it comes to investing in clean-tech and clean energy. "These [three] Asian governments will invest $519 billion in clean technology between 2009 and 2013, compared to $172 billion by the U.S. government," the report titled says.
Photo: Wikipedia, CC
Time to Wake Up
The report is title Rising Tigers, Sleeping Giant (pdf). "Should the investment gap persist," the report warns, "the United States will import the overwhelming majority of clean energy technologies it deploys."
Importing technology isn't necessarily bad if this means that you can spend your resources on other things (so that in the end you have both), but if you simply invest less, you'll end up without a home grown innovation base and you'll have to import what you need. That could be a problematic situation.
The direct, immediate, and coordinated nature of Asian government investments stands in contrast to the sporadic regulatory approach pursed in the United States. The report suggests that government investments will allow Asian nations to create innovation "clusters" of manufacturers, universities, R&D; labs, suppliers and other firms, much as the Pentagon helped create Silicon Valley in the fifties and sixties. These clusters will be attractive to U.S. firms, the report argues, which are already making large investments in China.
Indeed, the United States' traditional prowess in attracting venture capital and other private funding could soon be eclipsed by Asia. China and other Asian nations, the report concludes, are offering a better business and investment climate than the United States. And China's share of private sector clean tech funding is growing rapidly. Between 2000 and 2008, the United States attracted $52 billion in private capital for renewable energy technologies, but China alone attracted $41 billion. China secured more private investment in renewables and efficiency technologies than the U.S. for the first time in 2008.
Wake up, USA!
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