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Guest Thinkers

Made In China: Your Energy Future

Question: would you rather answer to a boss who has his own interests at heart (not yours), or to no boss at all? Would you rather the US switched from answering to the Middle East on oil and then immediately started answering to China on renewable and clean energy technologies – as the world moves from ancient energy (coal and oil) to current energy (wind, sun, tidal power) – or would you rather we took our energy future into our own hands for a change? Whoops, there’s that word again. Change.

As the NYT’s Keith Bradsher put it, China’s efforts to dominate and out-produce the rest of the world on clean energy technologies like solar, wind, and even quasi-clean technologies like nuclear and “clean coal” (let’s not even open that can of beans right now) “raise the prospect that the West may someday trade its dependence on oil from the Mideast for a reliance on solar panels, wind turbines and other gear manufactured in China.”

The terrifying fact of the matter is that China is currently the world leader on both wind and solar production. Right now, our energy future has “Made In China” stamped all over it. Granted, China has a leg up on technologies like wind and solar; their spiking energy demands mean building new energy infrastructure of some kind anyway, whereas here in the US, where our coal and oil infrastructures are already mature, going for clean energy often means paying a steeper premium.

But according to the NYT: “China’s commitment to renewable energy is expensive. Although costs are falling steeply through mass production, wind energy is still 20 to 40 percent more expensive than coal-fired power. Solar power is still at least twice as expensive as coal.” China’s dominating wind and solar not because it’s no sacrifice for the booming country to do so, but because the country is looking ahead and making a deliberate choice to build the future of energy on home soil. Where it knows who’s boss.


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