China pressing forward with renewable energy

Faced with energy shortages and endemic air pollution, China is moving aggressively to develop renewable-energy technologies. Last summer, it announced it would seek to get 12 percent of its energy from renewables by 2020. As it strives to meet this goal, the government is eschewing central planning and instead subsidizing public and private companies, waiting for markets to demonstrate which strategies will pay off. While China hopes to become a world leader in electric and hybrid cars, and solar energy is spreading quickly, the big push is toward wind power. The government is partnering with well-established European wind companies, seeking foreign investment from European corporations and foundations, and looking to wind-friendly European countries for models of how to structure its energy laws and regulations. Readers may note the prevalence of “European” in that sentence and the absence of “American,” and lament that the U.S. is twiddling its thumbs as other nations profit from a robust and growing international market for renewable-energy products and strategies.