[p2p-research] American Solar Action Plan & China as a green leader

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Sat Aug 15 00:45:36 CEST 2009

Global warming and accessible energy supply are the essential challenges of 
our age, and solar is uniquely able to meet them both:
     * Sunlight is a huge, nearly ubiquitous resource many thousands of 
times larger than our energy demand.
     * The Plan can be generalized worldwide, so the US can show the way for 
others to adopt it.
     * Means of storing solar energy have been developed and can make 
possible 24/7 operation.
     * Solar electric conversion technologies are nearing economic 
viability, and the near-term goal is to establish a ten-year national solar 
deployment plan to bring solar technologies to lowest cost through the 
attainment of optimized mass manufacturing scale.
     * The transportation sector can be transformed by electric and hybrid 
electric vehicles, allowing solar-generated electricity to become the fuel.
   All the pieces of this world-changing plan actually exist and have been 
described in the January 2008 Scientific American. We believe it is only a 
lack of awareness of the opportunity and of its efficacy that prevents the 
Plan from being immediately adopted. As Mark Twain once said, “Once you lose 
your ignorance, it’s hard to get it back.” We want to be the organization 
through which this loss of ignorance is accomplished.

Links to:
The technology is ready. On the following pages we present a grand plan that 
could provide 69 percent of the U.S.’s electricity and 35 percent of its 
total energy (which includes transportation) with solar power by 2050. We 
project that this energy could be sold to consumers at rates equivalent to 
today’s rates for conventional power sources, about five cents per 
kilowatt-hour (kWh). If wind, biomass and geothermal sources were also 
developed, renewable energy could provide 100 percent of the nation’s 
electricity and 90 percent of its energy by 2100. ... A vast area of 
photovoltaic cells would have to be erected in the Southwest.  Excess 
daytime energy would be stored as compressed air in underground caverns to 
be tapped during nighttime hours.

Personally I feel that plan is conservative (and by 2100 technology will 
have so far advanced that any technical issue with energy of the present day 
would seem laughable). They only want US$400 billion over 40 years. That is 
trivial. With the recent banking bailout of trillions in one year, why not 
just spend US$4 trillion next year? There is little question in my mind that 
printing so much money for green energy this year will paradoxically only 
strengthen the dollar. :-) In one year, the USA could become a world leader 
in something positive again. It might give the US dollar a new lease on 
life, as it seems in a pretty precarious situation right now.

As it is, the USA seems to be ceeding that leadership opportunity to China:
   "China’s green leap forward"
Facing dire pollution and wanting to be in on what may be the next 
industrial revolution, China positions itself to be a leader in green 
technology – with major implications for the rest of the world.
   Behind the notorious clouds of filth and greenhouse gases that China’s 
industrial behemoth spews into the atmosphere every day, a little-noticed 
revolution is under way. China is going green. And as the authorities here 
spur manufacturers of all kinds of alternative energy equipment to make more 
for less, “China price” and “China speed” are poised to snatch the lion’s 
share of the next multitrillion-dollar global industry – energy technology.
   Chinese factories already make a third of the world’s solar cells – six 
times more than America. Next year, China will become the largest market in 
the world for wind turbines – overtaking America. This fall, a Chinese firm 
will launch the world’s first mass-produced all-electric car of this 
century. And where are American utilities buying the latest generation of 
“clean coal” power stations? China.
   The Chinese government thinks of renewables as a major strategic 
industrial option” that will help fuel this country’s future growth, says Li 
Junfeng, deputy head of energy research at China’s top planning agency. “We 
will catch up with international advanced technology very quickly.”
   China will likely remain the world’s worst polluter, emitting more CO2 
than any other nation, for the foreseeable future. Its reliance on cheap 
coal to generate the bulk of its electricity makes that almost inevitable.
   At the same time, however, “this country is installing a one-megawatt 
wind turbine every hour,” points out Dermot O’Gorman, head of the World Wide 
Fund for Nature in Beijing. “That is more encouraging than the one coal 
fired power station a week” that normally dominates foreign headlines.
   Indeed, China is pushing ahead on renewable technologies with the fervor 
of a new space race. It wants to be in the forefront of what many believe 
will be the next industrial revolution. If it succeeds, it will hold 
far-reaching implications for the planet – affecting everything from 
Detroit’s competitiveness to global warming to the economic pecking order in 
the 21st century.
   “The rest of the world doesn’t even realize that we are very likely 
ceding the next generation of energy technology to the Chinese,” says Todd 
Glass, an energy lawyer with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati in San 
Francisco. ...

  Still, the country has plenty of reasons to attempt to be the world’s next 
green-energy power. For one thing, it has few natural energy resources of 
its own. Plus, its pollution problems are so severe that it has little 
choice. The country’s outsized reliance on coal is literally a matter of 
life and death: 750,000 people in China die prematurely each year because of 
air pollution, a World Bank study in 2007 found (though the Chinese 
government insisted the bank cut that statistic from its final report). Only 
1 percent of the population breathes air that would be considered safe in 
Europe. ...
   “China sees [green technology] as an enormous market that is not claimed 
or controlled by any one nation, and there is an opportunity for them to do 
it,” says Carberry. “The combination of urgency; the enormous needs; a 
focused, systematic planned government; an army of engineers; and access to 
capital may define China as the platform for the green-technology industry 

So much going on in the world...

But that does not seem to be a peer initiative. That sounds more like a 
focused state initiative. How can we turn renewable energy more into a peer 
or local initiative? Or maybe it is happening by itself?

--Paul Fernhout

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