January 16, 2013 | This article appeared in the February 4, 2013 edition of The Nation. Photo: Reuters/Jason Lee
Signaling China’s ambition to be the world’s leader in solar energy, Beijing officials announced in January that the country had installed an impressive seven gigawatts of solar power capacity in 2012 and would add an additional ten gigawatts this year. The bold announcement is consistent with the “Green Leap Forward,” China’s goal to assert global leadership in renewable energy and low-carbon development. At the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen three years ago, Wu Changhua, China director of the London-based Climate Group, galvanized an auditorium of environmentalists by stating that low-carbon growth had become “mainstream” in China. No longer a fringe industry, clean energy would be transformed into a robust market, with mass-scale production enabling global distribution and bringing downward pressure on prices everywhere. China would become a cornucopia of state-of-the-art, cheap and abundant green technology, all flowing from the enlightened thinking of its centrally planned economy and ambitious energy-savings targets. ….(more).