“Rising Tigers, Sleeping Giant: Asian Nations Set to Dominate Clean Energy Race by Out-Investing the United States,” a major new report released today by the Breakthrough Institute and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, is the first to comprehensively benchmark the competitiveness positions of the United States and key Asian challengers – China, Japan and South Korea – in the global clean energy race.
The new report examines the competitive position of each nation in core clean energy technologies, including solar, wind, and nuclear power, carbon capture and storage, advanced vehicles and batteries, and high-speed rail, as well as the government strategies each nation hopes will strengthen their position in the competitive global clean technology sector.
Core findings of “Rising Tigers, Sleeping Giant” include:
- Asia’s rising “clean technology tigers” – China, Japan, and South Korea – have already passed the United States in the production of virtually all clean energy technologies, and over the next five years, the government’s of these nations will out-invest the United States three-to-one in these sectors. This public investment gap will allow these Asian nations to attract a significant share of private sector investments in clean energy technology, estimated to total in the trillions of dollars over the next decade. While some U.S. firms will benefit from the establishment of joint ventures overseas, the jobs, tax revenues, and other benefits of clean tech growth will overwhelmingly accrue to Asia’s clean tech tigers.
- Large, direct and sustained public investments will solidify the competitive advantage of China, Japan, and South Korea. Government investments in research and development, clean energy manufacturing capacity, the deployment of clean energy technologies, and the establishment of enabling infrastructure, will allow these Asian nations to capture economies of scale, learning-by-doing, and innovation advantages before the United States, where public investments are smaller, less direct, and less targeted.
- Should the investment gap persist, the United States will import the overwhelming majority of clean energy technologies it deploys. Current U.S. energy and climate policies focus on stimulating domestic demand primarily through indirect demand-side incentives and regulations. Should these policies succeed in creating demand without providing robust support for U.S. clean energy technology manufacturing and innovation, the United States will rely on foreign-manufactured clean technology products. This could jeopardize America’s economic recovery and its long-term competitiveness while making it even more difficult to reduce the U.S. trade deficit.
- Proposed U.S. climate and energy legislation, as currently formulated, is not yet sufficient to close the clean tech investment gap. In contrast to more direct investments by Asia’s clean tech tigers, current U.S. policies rely overwhelmingly on modest market incentives that are viewed by the private sector as more indirect, create more risks for private market investors, and do less to overcome the many barriers to clean energy adoption. The American Clean Energy and Security Act, passed by the U.S. House of Representative in June 2009, includes too few proactive policy initiatives and allocates relatively little funding to support research and development, commercialization and production of clean energy technologies within the United States. Including investments in clean energy R&D, demonstration, manufacturing and deployment in both U.S. economic recovery packages and the House-passed climate and energy bill, the United States is poised to invest $172 billion over the next five years, which compares to investments of $397 billion in China alone, a more than four-to-one ratio on a per-GDP basis.
- If the United States hopes to compete for new clean energy industries it must close the widening gap between government investments in the United States and Asia’s clean tech tigers and provide more robust support for U.S. clean tech research and innovation, manufacturing, and domestic market demand. Small, indirect and uncoordinated incentives are not sufficient to outcompete China, Japan, and South Korea. To regain economic leadership in the global clean energy industry, U.S. energy policy must include large, direct and coordinated investments in clean technology R&D, manufacturing, deployment, and infrastructure.
Media coverage of “Rising Tigers, Sleeping Giant”
- Financial Times: “Asia set to overtake US in green technology“
- Wall Street Journal, Environmental Capital: “Flying Tigers: More Reasons to Worry About Asia’s Clean-Tech Push“
- Stanford Review: “Winning the Clean Energy Race: A New Strategy for American Leadership“
- SolveClimate.com: “Made in America by China: New Turbine Factory Offers Glimpse into the Future“