Viewed from afar, it was a week of contradictions. But perhaps, it was a sign that renewable energy could gain a growing foothold in developing nations like China and India. The two nations are expected to lead a 53 percent growth in energy consumption by 2035, according to a international report released by the United States Energy Information Administration. Much of that growth is projected to come from fossil fuels.
Clearly, Asia is where energy solutions will be needed. It's also where renewable energy is increasingly being manufacturered. Will Asia's giants rely on their own technology to feed their growing demands? And will this be solely a policy decision based on economics? Perhaps, there is an emerging consumer element as well. In China there are signs that residents are gaining a stronger voice in environmental concerns following the shutdown of a solar plant accused of pollution and the relocation of a chemical plant following similar concerns. And in India, a new study has found that 71 percent of consumers are willing to pay higher rates for electricity from renewable energy sources.
IN THE NEWS
Global Clinton Initiative: Applied Material executive Mark Walker shared the stage with former President Clinton, and he writes about the potential renewable energy presents for schools and villages in places like India.
Already moving in: A lesser-known Chinese solar company has announced plans to build a manufacturing plant in upstate New York. Linuo Solar said it will create up to 1,000 jobs once its plan is complete. The company spent $4.5 million on a former IBM-plant in East Fishkill, N.Y., and said that it plans to invest up to $100 million on the 157-acre site, which is not far from the SpectraWatt facility currently under liquidation.
Technical Standards for China Wind: The potential of the China solar market may be dominating the headlines, but the country continues to solidify its world lead in installed wind capacity with more than 43 GW at the end of 2010. During the first half of 2011, China generated 38.6 billion kWh of wind power, up 61 percent year on year (the fastest among all types of energy).
One long blade: Vestas announced that it has successfully produced its first batch of 49-meter-long wind turbine blades at its Tianjin factory in preparation for the mass production of a line of two-megawatt wind turbines. The turbine is capable of generating electricity even during periods of low wind speeds, making it useful for areas that were previously considered to be unsuitable for wind power generation.
Visit from American Official: Chinese solar companies are expected to get top priority when Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona comes over from America to talk about bringing business to her sun-soaked state.
Gaining Steam: China has the need for renewable forms of energy. Iceland has the expertise in the geothermal field. So China is sending a team of experts to the North Atlantic island on a fact-finding mission that may help them tap geothermal energy at home.
Building a Bio Power: Thailand Energy Minister Pichai Naripthaphan says his nation could become a hub for an emerging biofuels industry in southeast Asia. Pichai attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nations energy meeting last week in Brunei.
South Korea and Carbon: Government officials aim to pass a law this year that would launch a carbon trading program by 2015 despite stiff opposition from business leaders.
A DEEPER LOOK
China Politics and Solyndra: A nuanced look at the current state of the Chinese solar industry belies the monochromatic depiction of a Chinese solar industry taking advantage of its U.S. counterparts through a familiar playbook of nefarious actions. In fact there is a great deal of stress throughout the Chinese solar industry now, brought about by the familiar cutthroat price competition that typically befalls a high-growth industry suffering from runaway capacity development.
Rethinking the Math: An engineer sets up a project in India to prove that solar power is the cheapest and easiest option in many parts of the world.
In His Own Words: Softbank chief executive Son Masayoshi details his vision for a Japan powered by renewable energy. Son recently announced plans to raise money for a smart grid transmission and earlier this month he launched the Japan Renewable Energy Foundation.
Japan’s Future: As the nation continues to explore its energy future in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami last spring, the Japan Times kicks off a six-part series about the prospects of the nation’s renewable energy efforts.
BY THE NUMBERS
4, 5, 8: Rankings, respectively, for China, Japan and India in an IMS Research listing of the top 10 most important PV markets of 2011.
740: New geothermal potential in megawatts in Japan's northeast Tohoku region, according to Japan’s Geothermal Developers Council.
23,400: Total geothermal potential in megawatts for Japan, which ranks third worldwide in geothermal resources.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Sinovel Responds: “After more than five years of development, and with the efforts of more than 800 researchers, our company is technically far ahead of the industry. We do not need to buy any AMSC trade secrets or intellectual property rights. AMSC and the worker’s confession have seriously violated our company’s reputation as well as our commercial reputation. Our company reserves the right to legal action.”
— Company statement regarding a lawsuit alleging industrial espionage over wind technology
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