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Look who's leading the clean energy race!
The world’s biggest consumer of energy is also the world's biggest investor in clean energy and energy efficiency solutions.
April 23, 2014
Top of the clean energy table (1/13)
China invested more in clean energy than any other nation in 2013, ahead of the United States and Japan, according to the 2014 edition of ‘Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race?’ by the Pew Charitable Trusts. China solidified its lead by attracting $54.2 billion in clean energy investment, down from $65.1bn in 2012 but still $17.5 billion ahead of the United States total.
In recent years the world’s largest energy consumer has expanded its capacity in renewable energy in an effort to cut its levels of carbon intensity—the amount of carbon dioxide produced per unit of GDP—by 17% by the end of 2015 and to combat chronic air pollution. The report noted that China's clean energy sector is “reorienting from an exclusive focus on exports toward greater domestic consumption”.
Solar powerhouse (2/13)
A worker cleans solar panels on the rooftop of the Yiwu International Trade City in Yiwu, Zhejiang province. In 2013, China increased solar deployment almost fourfold from 3.2 GW in 2012 to an unprecedented 12.1 GW. No country had ever previously installed more than 10 GW of solar capacity in one year.
China attracted $22.6 billion in investment in new solar capacity, second only to post-Fukushima Japan and 23% of the G-20 total. China aims to add another 14GW in 2014.
Wind direction shifts East (3/13)
Workers stand inside a newly painted wind turbine tower in the assembly workshop of the Guodian United Power Technology Company at the city of Baoding, Hebei Province. In 2013, China racked up 38% of G-20 wind energy investment, with $28 billion recorded.
The center of gravity in the wind sector has shifted from the United States and Europe to China and in 2013 the country deployed 14.1GW of wind power, the fifth year in a row it topped 10GW in new capacity. The target for 2014 is a further 18GW.
Biofuel potential (4/13)
Containers are seen in a laboratory in an enzyme factory of Danish biopharmaceutical company Novozymes, located in the Tianjin Economic Development Area (TEDA). Novozymes, the world's largest industrial enzymes maker, is confident China's bioethanol market will grow by at least 20% by 2018. Bioethanol, an alcohol made mainly from sugar and starch crops, is typically used as a fuel for cars.
In the five years from 2008 to 2013 biofuels investment has been just 1% of total investment in Chinese clean energy. Aside from solar and wind power, China also registers a large proportion of G-20 investment in “other renewable energies” (in particular biomass and hydropower) with 10% of all investment between 2008 and 2013 falling into this category.
Recycling gains ground (5/13)
An employee arranges discarded televisions at a newly opened electronic waste recycling factory in Wuhan, Hubei province. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), e-waste is the fastest growing commodity in the waste stream with a growth rate five times that of other parts of the business such as industrial waste. The burgeoning middle classes in fast-growing China and other emerging economic powers mean there are more computers and mobiles, adding to e-cycling growth.
Wearable power packs (6/13)
A staff member of Shenzhen Enon Dynamic Technology Co. Ltd poses with their product, made with Chinese solar technology, which features a solar cell on a backpack that can be used to charge a mobile phone, at an electronics fair in Hong Kong.
Pedal power (7/13)
A worker checks batteries at an electronic bike factory in Hefei, Anhui province. China's vast population of electric bikes are the battery-powered pack mules of the nation's economic boom. Nine of every 10 e-bicycle sales occur in China and there are tens of millions of them on China’s roads. Electric bike sales outstrip sales of any other vehicle, running to about 28 million units per year, according to Navigant Research.
Energy efficient farming (8/13)
Rice saplings are seen in test tubes at the Beijing Genomics Institute in Shenzhen, southern China. These plants have been engineered to produce higher yields and have other characteristics which make them superior to ordinary rice plants, say researchers. Genetically enhanced crops could lead to more robust varieties that do not require so many energy-intensive inputs like petrochemical based fertilizers and pesticides or water resources.
Fighting fumes (9/13)
A BYD E6 electric car, used as a taxi in Shenzhen, is seen in a car park in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen. The BYD E6 electric cars are China's first indigenous electric taxis, and Beijing hopes their use will reduce air pollution in cities.
Energy producing buildings (10/13)
Residents pass a LED display combined with China's first photovoltaic system integrated into a glass wall with solar technology outside a hotel in Beijing. Since 2009, the Chinese government’s Golden Sun Demonstration Project has provided generous subsidies for rooftop and ‘building-integrated’ solar photovoltaic projects.
Lab-grown lettuce (11/13)
A worker inspects lettuce plants growing under artificial light and in a liquid solution at China's first computer-controlled greenhouse seedling factory located on the outskirts of Beijing. The factory will supply 15 million pesticide-free vegetable, fruit and flower seedlings per year to domestic growers, China's Xinhua News Agency reported.
Solar thermal hotting up (12/13)
A Chinese worker cleans the glass collector tubes of a solar thermal system on the rooftop of the Tsinghua Solar Corporation in Beijing. The joint venture, set up by Beijing's Tsinghua University and the Beijing Glass Instruments Factory, was an early leader in China's fast growing market for solar thermal systems used to heat water for domestic consumption.
Public transport (13/13)
A high-speed train travelling to Guangzhou is seen running on Yongdinghe Bridge in Beijing. China opened the world's longest high-speed rail line between Beijing and the southern metropolis of Guangzhou in December 2012.
China believes high speed rail supports energy independence and environmental sustainability. Electric trains use less energy to transport people and goods on a per unit basis and can draw power from more diverse sources of energy including renewables than automobiles and aircraft, which are more reliant on imported petroleum.