US Risks Falling Behind Developing Nations in Electricity Technology - Page 2
In areas such as solar generated electricity, the gap is even wider. In 2010 the US was actually 4th in the world in installed solar capacity. The China Development Bank invested almost $20 billion in Chinese manufactures of solar equipment. Chinese solar manufactures now own over half the global market in selling solar equipment.
Developing nations such as China are investing heavily in electricity and clean energy infrastructure and technologies simply because they must. Over half of the total global renewable power capacity today is located in emerging economies. While America is mostly content with its in-place infrastructure which largely consisting of last century’s technologies, these countries are franticly installing the next generation of technology on massive scales. They are driven not only to support the unprecedented scale of urbanization taking place, but also to support the growing standard of living among rural populations. Because countries such as China still have such a large remote and rural population, alternative technologies are better suited to reach places of need because they can be produced locally with lower transmission costs when compared to electricity produced by the burning of fossil fuels.
Part of the challenge is that U.S. commitment to alternative energy sources waxes and wanes with the costs of traditional energy sources. Following the oil crises of the 1970s, President Jimmy Carter attempted to put solar energy development front and center. He even installed a solar electricity panel on the White House, a symbolic gesture that was promptly removed by incoming president Ronald Reagan amid falling energy prices. Americans run the risk of complacency in this important new front after enjoying decades of cheap gasoline and cheap electricity. At stake, however, is more than cheap electricity. Clean energy represents a huge opportunity for job growth, economic leadership and energy independence.Continued on the next page