Without Biden Plan, Clean Energy Will Be Dominated by China

October 17, 2021


China has started building work on the first 100GW phase of a solar and wind buildout that is likely to see hundreds of gigawatts deployed in the country’s desert regions.

Speaking via video link at a United Nations Biodiversity Conference today (12 October), Chinese President Xi Jinping said construction on the initial phase, which will have an estimated capacity of 100GW, recently started in a “smooth fashion”.

While the location and construction timeline of the projects, nor the total expected capacity or the number of subsequent phases, were not revealed, the scheme will represent a notable chunk of China’s ambition of reaching more than 1,200GW of installed solar and wind capacity by 2030.

Note: Total US generating capacity is about 1100 GW.

Mike O’Boyle in The Hill:

Even as COVID-19 was ravaging the world economy, clean energy technologies continued to thrive in 2020. Renewable electricity construction shattered records and accounted for 90 percent of the entire global power sector’s expansion, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Electric vehicles did the same, increasing sales 43 percent year over year.

Perhaps counter-intuitively, industry support can be paired with industry regulation to super-charge domestic clean energy manufacturing and create millions of American jobs. That is the American Jobs Plan’s vision — beating China and Europe to the clean energy future by pushing businesses to innovate while incentivizing them to capture this opportunity.

China’s policies will continue to support the domestic manufacturing of solar panels and batteries, which are key components of the clean energy economy. Though China emitsmore planet-warming pollution than any other country, President Xi has also set goals to build more wind and solar power in the next nine years than today’s entire U.S. grid has online.

European countries have cornered the international market on another emerging renewable technology: offshore wind. Proactive government support to build transmission lines, hold competitive auctions, and expand port infrastructure have allowed European companies to manufacture over 80 percent of the world’s offshore wind turbines and develop and own the majority of projects. Meanwhile, the technology now competes subsidy-free in European electricity markets and employs 110,000 Europeans. Because they command the market, virtually all major offshore wind turbine manufacturers reside in Europe — meaning any U.S. offshore wind farm built in the near-term will have to rely on European manufacturing.

The American Jobs Plan is a national strategy to bring these jobs back home. Pairing a national clean electricity standard, which requires utilities to buy clean power, with high-road labor standards and domestic manufacturing support, will expand the middle class by creating jobs that pay wages higher than the national average while reducing air pollution and enhancing environmental justice. 

recent report from the University of California, Berkeley, and Energy Innovation, where I serve as director of electricity policy, found the American Jobs Plan would generate $1.5 trillion in investments and up to 1 million jobs by 2030 in every corner of the country. It should also be noted that I helped author the report.

Renewable energy is cheap and plentiful enough to replace 80 percent of existing coal-fired power plants locally at no additional cost to consumers. And Princeton research shows high-road labor standards can push wind and solar salaries higher than average fossil fuel jobs, without meaningfully increasing customer electricity bills. 

The American Jobs Plan also positions the U.S. to lead on the next generation of clean electricity technologies by investing $50 billion in emerging technologies including offshore wind, green hydrogen, advanced nuclear, carbon capture, and battery storage. China and Europe are investing in these opportunities, why aren’t we?

The story is similar for electric vehicles. In 2020, Europe’s electric vehicle registrations grew more than any major economy, nearly catching China’s market share. They did it by combining government investments in charging, customer incentives, and the world’s most stringent regulationson auto manufacturers. For Europe, dealing with climate change and air pollution also means leading the electric vehicle revolution.

While China leads the world in battery manufacturing and electric vehicle deployment, its true competitive advantage is its leadership on electric buses and trucks. China owns 95 percent of the electric bus market and 90 percent of the global heavy-duty electric truck market. According to IEA, China’s local air pollution standards account for induced demand for these technologies and could save transit and shipping companies trillions in fuel costs by 2035.

It’s clear U.S. auto manufacturers see the writing on the wall: GM pledged to sell 100 percent electric vehicles by 2035 while Ford plans to invest more than $22 billion in EVs through 2025. Federal infrastructure investment and market support can empower these stalwarts of American industry to recapture domestic and international leadership.

The American Jobs Plan invests in charging infrastructure and consumer incentives for electric vehicles to keep pace with Europe and China. It creates a tax credit to support the market for electric and fuel cell trucks and other heavy vehicles. It also invests $25 billion in electric buses, and $20 billion in electrifying school buses, reducing kids’ exposure to pollution. 

California shows the payoff of these types of policies — electric vehicles were the state’s top export in 2020. More than 275,000 people work in California’s electric vehicle industry, earning more than $90,000 annually on average, more than the statewide average manufacturing salary of $80,000 per year. California and other states with zero-emission vehicle regulations deserve substantial credit for U.S. electric vehicle leadership to this point.


10 Responses to “Without Biden Plan, Clean Energy Will Be Dominated by China”

  1. J4Zonian Says:

    Clean energy is already dominated by China, and has been for decades.

    Biden’s criminally pathetic plan won’t do a damn thing to change that. The US will keep falling further behind and it will go to its strength—underhandedly sabotaging China’s transition efforts—rather than helping both them and us.

    The plan is to ratify something as much slower than what “the market” is already doing as the oligarchic Democrats can manage without being found out. (They’re still pretending to be leading…something.) But the universally below-average USer public wouldn’t catch on to a cattle rustling operation in a tea shop.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      And yet “Biden’s criminally pathetic plan” goes too far for the Republican senators and governors and media mouthpieces.

      • J4Zonian Says:

        And for Sinemancha, and for the oligarchic Democrats, and for Biden. They all want a plan that will stop warming without doing any of the things that will stop warming.

        As we all know, winning slowly on climate is the same as losing.
        So unless we can resolve the paradox of changing without changing, or remove from power those hampered by it, we’re unlikely to be able to move forward fast enough for civilization to survive. Those afflicted by right wing psychosis, which at this point involves every elected federal official to the right of the Squad, will have to give up power or their identity, or have them taken from them.

        • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

          …will have to give up power or their identity, or have them taken from them.

          By whom?

          • J4Zonian Says:

            Again, I’m not talking about what is likely or what I think will happen. ONLY WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN FOR CIVILIZATION TO SURVIVE.

            If you see any other way for the US to move ahead strongly enough on climate solutions (and thus be able to bribe, bully, browbeat, and tax other, even more recalcitrant countries into doing it too) please tell us. Meanwhile, I’ll save us the trouble of another round by telling you now that it’s even less likely than revolution. Way less likely.

          • J4Zonian Says:


            How can the continuing discussion be about the most obvious thing and not about the fact that all our “leaders” are saying they’re going to fix an existential crisis—and are pretending to—when they’re not willing to do A SINGLE THING that’s required?

            The right wing, fused inseparably into one with fossil, ICEV, agro-chemical, and other corporations, and the super-rich, will obviously never allow any solutions to happen without fanatical resistance—including elimination of fossil fuels, ICEVs, industrial ag…and even more fanatical resistance against deeper changes in relationships. They’ve repeatedly shown they’re violent from top to bottom-feeders; if we make any progress their next step is likely to be assault, murder and the beginning of mass incarceration. We have to make progress anyway.

            The rich are causing this crisis—everyone is to the exact extent of the wealth and income they have. The richest 10% of people on Earth emit half the GHGs, and control almost all the rest, and the concentration of wealth is growing phenomenally fast.(Have you seen reports of how many gazillion dollars the world’s multi-billionaires have accumulated during the Covid crisis?) We’re on the verge of fascism in the US, caused by concentration of the interchangeable commodities of money and power (turns out economic and political inequality are exactly the same thing!), yet our alleged leaders aren’t even willing to raise taxes 2% on the very richest, and the supposedly more liberal party conspired to steal a series of elections to make sure that didn’t happen.

            The dual ecological-economical crisis, and the economic system that’s the proximal cause of it, are so obviously caused by emotional illness not officially recognized that it’s excruciating for those aware of that to see decades go by without even the tiniest bit of headway getting either “leader” or public recognition of it, let alone any move toward healing it.

            The rulers obviously prefer people to stay ignorant about climate catastrophe, its ultimate cause, its direness and the radical nature of the solutions. Why aren’t we talking about the insanity of the Republicans and the complete failure of the Democrats to even attempt broad education about inequality, the country’s drive toward fascism, or the ecological crisis?

  2. Keith McClary Says:

    “bring these jobs back home”? Did they ever exist in USA? And how to do it, other than Trumpist tarriffs and “buy American” mandates?

    “high-road labor standards can push wind and solar salaries higher than average fossil fuel jobs” ?????

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      I think that means it’s easier to wind and solar companies to increase pay or allow unions than in the traditional coal and oil jobs (mines, drilling rigs, refineries). At the very least, the death rate should be lower (Deepwater Horizon, Seacor Power, refineries, assorted mine collapses).

  3. redskylite Says:

    This is an all-in, all nations, all or nothing effort. While individual nations may take the lead from time to time, it will take much effort from all to succeed.

    I’m not convinced our species is up to the challenge. Not by the track record so far.

    “Expansion of wind and solar power too slow to stop climate change.

    The production of renewable energy is increasing every year. But after analysing the growth rates of wind and solar power in 60 countries, researchers at Chalmers, Lund University and Central European University in Vienna, Austria conclude that virtually no country is moving sufficiently fast to avoid global warming of 1.5°C or even 2°C. ”


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