China’s sustainable energy competitiveness tops global ranking

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China’s sustainable energy competitiveness was ranked first among 21 major countries, overtaking the United States and European countries, said a report published on June 29, 2015.

The report, issued by Zhejiang University Environment and Energy Policy Center and published at the Eco Forum Global in Guiyang, Guizhou Province, southwest China, evaluated 19 of the G20 members, excluding the European Union, as well as Denmark and Spain, which are leading players in sustainable energy.

China scored high in sustainable energy resources, investment, labor force, market size, policy support, industrial development and competitiveness of its firms. However, it has a notable weakness in technological development and less incentive than developed countries to replace fossil fuels with sustainable energy, according to the report. The forum ended on Sunday.

Sustainable energy refers to wind power, solar power, hydropower, biological and geothermal power. It does not include nuclear power that is not sustainable and tidal energy that is not commercialized on a large scale.

According to the report, assessed by ten indicators, China scored slightly higher than the United States while Germany was ranked third. Indonesia was last.

Guo Sujian, director of the center and leading scientist of the research program, told Xinhua that China had obvious advantages in market size, government support, investment and the number of competitive companies.

In terms of sustainable energy resources, China was among the most resourceful countries together with the U.S., Canada, Australia, Brazil and Russia, while smaller nations, such as Denmark and Japan did not score high in this regard.

In terms of investment, China invested 219.2 billion U.S. dollars in the sector from 2010 to 2013, much higher than 64.9 billion dollars by the U.S.

There are 2.6 million people working in the sustainable energy sector in China, more than a third of the world total.

In terms of market size, China’s installed capacity of sustainable energy is about 1,200 gigawatts (GW) while the U.S., the second, has 111 GW less.

The country also had 163 companies listed in the world’s top 500 new energy firms, much more than the U.S., which has between 80 and 90.

However, technological development of sustainable energy in China is not as advanced as other nations, Guo said.

The report cited the Global Cleantech Innovation Index provided by Cleantech Group, which put the U.S. in first place and China in ninth.

Despite a large number of Chinese companies in the top 500 list, they reported much lower revenue and returns than U.S., German and Japanese firms, Guo said.

Also, compared with European countries, China is less motivated since its per capita carbon emissions are low, the report said.

To further sharpen competitiveness in this sector, the report suggested that the government shift the focus of policy support, from investment to consumption of sustainable energy.

The installed capacity of wind power accounted for 7 percent of China’s power generation but these facilities only produced 2.8 percent of the total electricity.

“Preferential policies of financing, tax and pricing should go to power grid firms and consumers who buy sustainable energy,” Guo said.

To tackle the technological weakness, investment and policy support should go to research and development, especially creative private companies, he said.

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