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China Powers Ahead in Green Technologies

China Powers Ahead in Green Technologies

China Powers Ahead in Green Technologies

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For many, the words "China" and "environmentalism" don't go hand in hand. Instead, visions of China might include smog-filled skylines and factories belching out clouds of smoke. But a growing green movement is underway in China's industries, and some experts are betting that China will leap ahead in renewable energy.

Change is blowing in China - in the form of green technologies like these wind turbines. For each of the last four years, China has doubled its wind energy capacity. This year, the People's Republic is set to overtake the U.S. as the world's top manufacturer of wind turbines.

In the next decade, China believes it can match Europe by producing a fifth of its energy needs from renewable sources. China is striving to become a clean energy superpower, even as the United States moves to do the same.

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PRESIDENT OBAMA: "There's no longer a question about whether the jobs and industries of the 21st century will be centered around clean, renewable energy. The only question is which country will create these jobs and these industries."

Experts say China may be positioning to take the lead, and not just in wind energy. The country now has the largest solar power manufacturing industry, with the government recently approving a plan to build the largest solar field on Earth, 65 square kilometers, generating enough energy to light three million homes.

Richard Gledhill, an analyst at Price WaterhouseCoopers, says
"China is very well-positioned to become a leader in green technology. The combination of its continued economic growth, its technological and manufacturing capability and strong government commitment, driven in part by growing concerns about climate change and about other environmental threats is creating real momentum in the green tech sector."

Almost 40 percent of China's latest stimulus package has been allocated to green business, compared to 12 percent of the U.S. package.

But some say China is using protectionist policies like export subsidies to gain advantage in the renewable energy field. And that the U.S. should toughen up on trade.

"We are losing all the cutting-edge industries to China because of China's trade policies and because of the reluctance of the Obama Administration, just like the Bush Administration, to stand up to China. It's a very sad and tragic thing," said economist Peter Morici of the University of Maryland Smith School of Business.

Morici says don't be too quick to applaud China's efforts. China is the world's largest producer of carbon dioxide. Of the world's 20 most polluted cities, 16 cities are in China, most of the pollution caused by coal-fire generated power.

"China is not the good guys," he added. "If they were, they would be doing something about C02 emissions. They are certainly wealthy enough to do it, and they have a lot of money to buy the technology we have available to create a cleaner economy."

Chinese officials say they've got that covered too, with a significant share of its $590 billion economic stimulus package pegged for low-carbon investment, like energy efficient auto transport.

Meantime, every day in the village of Shui Yu, 200 tons of chicken manure are converted into biofuel to meet the energy needs of 5,000 households. A potent example of China turning trash into treasure.