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Asia in Focus

Renewable Energy: China's Domestic and Global Power Surge

2010 has been a year of newly visible market shares and influence of Chinese participants in domestic and global markets for renewable energy. China has fundamentally changed its domestic trends, and now is substantially influencing global trends, towards increased installation of a variety of renewable energy generating products, at ever-lower prices, with ever-lower manufacturer profitability.  

Major China export products include, along with high-profile wind turbines and solar PV modules, lower profile compact fluorescent light bulbs and solar water heaters. They will soon include new products such as white LED (light emitting diode) lighting products, batteries for automobile drive trains, and electricity-powered high-speed railway systems.

While foreign governments and labor movements struggle to respond to China's conquest of yet another manufacturing sector, the resulting reduction in global prices for renewable energy products offers some solace to consumers of these products, and to other beneficiaries of cleaner air and slower climate change. This conquest is now under investigation by the Office of the United States Trade Representative, and may soon result in another major trade dispute.

The key technical and economic challenges in 2011 and beyond, for Chinese and foreign governments, companies and workforces, will be to deploy those products efficiently, and to determine who will handle the highest value-added services. Financing, designing, installing, monitoring and maintaining such products will be the most accessible source of additional efficiencies, higher profits, and sustainable employment.

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