Is cleantech the new arms race ?

cleantechDuring  the Cold War, the United States and the USSR were fighting to have the largest amounts of weapons. It seems the arms race of the 21st century is more pacific as it concerns renewable energies.

The United States of America, China and the European Union are stepping up to become the first country or group of countries in cleantech. Even if the recession may slow down this process, the first results are encouraging.

This typically the kind of news I love to bring to you as it shows that Mankind is finally trying to go in the right direction.

Cleantech is much needed if we want to embrace sustainable development and I believe Thomas Friedman was right when stating that the country leading in renewables and other related technologies will most likely be or become the first world’s economy.

The New York Times noted recently that China is willing to become #1 in electric vehicles.

Chinese leaders have adopted a plan aimed at turning the country into one of the leading producers of hybrid and all-electric vehicles within three years, and making it the world leader in electric cars and buses after that.

(…) To some extent, China is making a virtue of a liability. It is behind the United States, Japan and other countries when it comes to making gas-powered vehicles, but by skipping the current technology, China hopes to get a jump on the next.

Japan is the market leader in hybrids today, which run on both electricity and gasoline, with cars like the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight. The United States has been a laggard in alternative vehicles. G.M.’s plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt is scheduled to go on sale next year, and will be assembled in Michigan using rechargeable batteries imported from LG in South Korea.

More recently TreeHugger published a news stating  that the country is preparing a stimulus plan for renewable energy sources.

China just announced that it is drafting a stimulus plan to boost its renewable energy industries. Perhaps inspired by some other nation that recently decided to use government funding to bolster a fledgling renewable energy industry, China’s plans immediately boosted the country’s biggest solar and wind power companies’ stocks.

(…)Details are vague, but most likely the plan will hinge on providing more government subsidies to renewable energy companies. Just the announcement that a plan was being drafted was enough to cause a stir—the country’s biggest manufacturer of wind turbines saw its stock jump 10%, and solar product makers saw gains from 4-9%, according to Bloomberg.

The plan is designed to help the nation meet its alternative energy goals:

The nation aims to boost usage of renewable energy to 10 percent of total energy consumption by 2010 from 7.5 percent in 2005. Solar power capacity will rise to 300,000 kilowatts from 70,000 kilowatts.

Both news show  even more clearly that I was right when stating that the red giant is going green.

Since nobody wants to be left behind in the next big thing,this will most likely spur an arm race that may last decades. What do you think ?

Edit:  The nice thing with this arm race is that even smaller countries can compete. Indeed, I just came accross on an article stating that South Africa starts its Renewable Energy Race… How convenient to find this article right now !


Edouard is a sustainability and energy professional committed to bringing our societies to a carbon neutral future. He has been writing on related topics on this very blog since 2007.

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4 Responses

  1. Thursday, June 4, 2009

    […] “arms race” will most likely continue for decades as many countries like India and China have plans to increase […]

  2. Tuesday, July 21, 2009

    […] But these two countries aren’t alone as we have seen on numerous occasions here : Spain is banking heavily on solar energy and high speed rail, South Korea is putting billions on the table for a green New Deal… I could go on, but the competition is due to be so fierce as it looks like an arms race. […]

  3. Tuesday, March 30, 2010

    […] any case, this is just the beginning of the cleantech arms race, so be sure that I will keep you updated with news on the […]

  4. Monday, April 26, 2010

    […] Change is indeed occuring, and occuring faster and faster as China, the United Kingdom, Spain and many other nations have fully understood that cleantech is the new arms race. […]

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