China Beachhead: More Government Support for Chinese Clean-Energy Exports
By Keith Johnson Via Wsj.com
From China today, another reminder of the role governments are playing in the global green-energy push.
China's Export-Import Bank signed a $2.9 billion deal to boost exports of China Energy Conservation Investment Corporation, an energy-efficiency and renewable-energy project developer. Government money helps finance Chinese energy companies with less access to the global banking system; that big Chinese wind farm in Texas is also financed by the Export-Import bank.
Jonathan Shieber at Dow Jones Clean Tech Insight notes that the Chinese support goes far beyond what the U.S. announced earlier this month: "'This swamps any U.S. [government] initiatives to support exports,'" said Charles R. McElwee, counsel in the Shanghai office of the law firm Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP."
And how—the U.S. Export-Import deal is a $250 million plan to boost exports of U.S clean-energy products. Japan said this summer it would help finance the overseas purchase of Japanese clean-energy technology, in a bid to boost adoption of still-pricey technology.
All of this comes amidst a fresh bout of hand-wringing over who's spending how much to promote clean energy. One of the latest reports, from the Breakthrough Institute, says Asian countries including China, will outspend the U.S. three-to-one over the next five years, with potentially big implications for the early development of clean-energy industries.
In other words, it seems that the battle over clean-energy tech—or ET, as Tom Friedman would have it—is increasingly becoming a scrap for governments as much as for private-sector firms. China, for example, has taken steps to boost its domestic clean-energy manufacturing capacity, heavily subsidized its domestic clean-energy deployment, and is now ramping up support for clean-energy exports. Ditto, to different degrees, with Japan and South Korea.
All of which should just make the next stab at energy and climate legislation in Congress all the more interesting—provided the health-care fight and election concerns haven't derailed enegy legislation altogether.