China Now the World Leader in Wind Power


Photo Credit: Slaunger via Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

According to a report from a wind turbine manufacturer, China has now installed more wind power capacity than the United States. Wind installation surged there last year, far outpacing the US, and now China has an estimated base of 40,000 MW of wind power installed. The US, which was the previous leader, ended the year with just shy of that. Not to further exacerbate the already over-dramatized US vs. China clean energy smackdown narrative, but China is totally laying the smack down on the US in clean energy. The New York Times reports: (emphasis mine)

A corporation that makes wind-machine components estimates that more than three times as much wind power capacity was installed in China last year than in the United States and that China now constitutes the world's largest wind energy market.

The United States ended the third quarter of last year with about 36,700 megawatts of installed capacity, and with a year-end slowdown, may have ended the year with less than 40,000 megawatts.

In 2010 China installed about 16,000 megawatts, versus 5,000 in the United States; in 2009 it installed 13,000 megawatts versus 10,000 in the United States, according to American Superconductor.

To get a better sense of the numbers, here's a breakdown of the how much wind power capacity the top nations had just last June:


Basically, China leapfrogged us in 6 months flat. So, to again beat a dead horse: Where the US is slowing down, and barely providing subsidies for clean energy industries, China is vaulting ahead. I know -- yawn. But it's true: China just has so much more political will to stimulate clean energy development and production (having a centrally planned, heavily state-driven economy certainly helps).

Above all, there's no escaping this truism: Clean energy is an industry that's going to dominate world trade for decades to come. And China is preparing, by building a sophisticated, large-scale manufacturing infrastructure for cleantech. Meanwhile, American politicians quibble over relatively small tax breaks for our domestic -- and struggling -- renewable energy sector.

Tom Friedman, and a number of other clean energy hawks have been making this case for years, and it's turning out to be true: China is eating our lunch in the clean energy industry.

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