The New (Green) Arms Race

Hobbled by opposition from the carbon incumbents and their
short-sighted allies on Capitol Hill the Obama administration
acknowledged this week that it would not return from Copenhagen with
any groundbreaking commitment to control green house gases. Meanwhile,
Congress is backsliding on the administration's wise commitment to
impose a rational price on carbon. Behind the logjam, a treacherous
U.S. Chamber of Commerce, always willing to put its obsequious scraping
to Big Oil and King Coal ahead of its duty to our country, has battled
every effort to accelerate America's transition to a market-based
de-carbonized economy.

The Chamber has continued to argue, idiotically, that energy
efficiency and independence will somehow put America at a competitive
disadvantage with the Chinese. Meanwhile, the Chinese have shrewdly and
strategically positioned themselves to steal America's once substantial
lead in renewable power. China will soon make us as dependent on
Chinese green technology for the next century as we have been on Saudi
oil during the last.

Indeed, the Chinese are treating the energy technology competition
if it were an arms race. China is spending as much or more on greentech
as it does on its military, hundreds of billions of dollars annually on
renewable energy and grid infrastructure improvements. Those
investments, if not vigorously countered, will effectively erode
America's greentech industry leadership and secure China's dominance.
China's economic stimulus package, targeted 38% of spending on
greentech, as compared to a miserly 12% of the U.S. stimulus program.
By 2013, greentech will account for 15 percent of the Chinese GDP.
While the United States is projected to roughly triple its wind
generation by 2020, China will increase its capacity twelvefold to a
wind generating capability more than twice that of America's. And,
while the United States is projected to increase its installed solar
generation a modest 33% by 2020, China's solar generation is projected
to increase 20,000%.

China's investments in solar technology have so powerfully
stimulated the growth of a Chinese solar market that Chinese solar
panel manufacturers now far outnumber American ones, and they are
achieving low-cost production much faster than their American
counterparts. Chinese companies are now flooding the American market
with cheap Chinese solar panels and devastating the American
manufacturing sector that was gearing up to create tens of thousands of
U.S. jobs for our own ailing economy. Hundreds of U.S. solar
manufacturers now see their prospects as grim. BP Solar, Evergreen, and
General Electric have already announced the closing of American-based
solar panel factories and outsourcing, primarily to China. America's
leading solar manufacturer, Applied Materials, has opened the largest
non-government solar energy research facility in the world in China. Of
today's ten leading solar panel manufacturers, only one is American.
The largest solar panel installation in the United States is a 70,000
panel, 14.2 megawatt array on Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. The
array provides more than 25% of the base's power needs, and saves the
Pentagon a million dollars annually in energy costs, but the panels'
manufacturer was China's Suntech Power Holdings. Even in the thin film
solar market, among the last redoubts of American dominance Chinese
businesses are squeezing profit.

Last year, America achieved a milestone, building more wind power
generation than all new oil and coal generation combined. We have led
the world in wind installations for several years, and the wind
industry already accounts for more American jobs than coal mining. At
one point the U.S. enjoyed global domination of wind turbine
manufacturing with great prospects for job creation. Yet today, of the
five leading wind turbine manufacturers, only one is American. While
Congress dawdles, China is clobbering us. Shenyang Power Group recently
inked a deal to be the exclusive supplier of turbines to the largest
wind project in the United States, a 36,000 acre, 600 megawatt
development in west Texas. The project will create 2,800 new jobs --
2,400 in China, but only 400 in the United States. As Lu Jinxiang,
chief executive of Shenyang's controlling shareholder noted, "This is
just the beginning ... [the United States] is an ideal target." China
is likewise poised to take away our lead in batteries and electric
cars, and has already pulled far ahead of America in automobile fuel

Capitol Hill Republicans will soon recognize that the arms race of
the 21st century is already in progress with a totalitarian nation that
they not long ago called "Red China." But America will not win with
more warheads and better rockets. We can only prevail with robust
investment in and support of U.S.-based greentech innovation.

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