Clean-tech investors, like those that swarmed the U.N. headquarters last week, have been drooling over investment prospects in suddenly-green China. Maybe it’s time to curb the enthusiasm.
“China expects local capital to fund 90 percent of the infrastructure and other investment needed to meet its goal to get 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020,” a top Chinese environmental official told Reuters at a climate-change shindig in Monaco (following Bali and Honolulu, yet another hardship destination for climate negotiators.)
China recently passed a renewable-energy law similar to the European Union’s that mandates a big increase in the use of clean energy like wind- and solar power over the next decade. And in China, a big percentage increase means a big increase: To make wind power 10% of the installed electricity capacity — an amount that the wind industry says is realistic – China needs to install 120 gigawatts of wind turbines. Perspective check: That’s more wind power than currently installed worldwide, or two entire Spains, or roughly 120 mid-sized nuclear plants.