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China Is Winning Global Race To Make Clean Energy

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the comparative-advantage-oh-noes dept.

Earth 346

Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that China vaulted past competitors in Denmark, Germany, Spain and the United States last year to become the world's largest maker of wind turbines, has leapfrogged the West in the last two years to emerge as the world's largest manufacturer of solar panels, and is pushing equally hard to build nuclear reactors and the most efficient types of coal power plants. These efforts to dominate renewable energy technologies raise the prospect that the West may someday trade its dependence on oil from the Mideast for a reliance on solar panels, wind turbines and other gear manufactured in China."

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346 comments

Defend China! (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979092)

Defend China Deformed Workers State! For international socialist revolution! For workers political revolution to oust the Stalinist bureaucracy! Down with U.S. imperialist "democratic" counterrevolution!

Inaccurate comparison (5, Insightful)

Krakadoom (1407635) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979108)

The OP is comparing a natural ressource only present in specific places with something that is easily manufactured anywhere. So, dependence on chinese wind turbines - hardly.

Re:Inaccurate comparison (2, Insightful)

jabuzz (182671) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979286)

With oil you need to buy more every single day, which is what creates the dependency.

Once you have purchased your cheap Chinese wind turbine and/or solar panel that is that. Sure they don't last forever, but once set you could easily say to a China screw you and not buy any turbines or solar panels from them for a decade without problems. That is neglecting the fact you could manufacture them elsewhere if need be.

Re:Inaccurate comparison (-1, Flamebait)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979488)

Thanks captain obvious.

Re:Inaccurate comparison (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979656)

You're welcome, Major Fuckup

Re:Inaccurate comparison (5, Insightful)

rikkards (98006) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979576)

Let alone they don't have the EPA breathing down their necks to deal with the toxic crap that is a byproduct of solar panel manufacturing. I am sure if the US didn't have to worry about ensuring this stuff didn't get into the environment everybody would have solar panels on everything

You cannot compare... (5, Insightful)

Manip (656104) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979114)

You cannot compare our need for oil to our "need" for manufactured goods. The former is a finite resource, you can only get it from a handful of places around the world, the latter will be sourced from literally whoever is cheapest. If China suddenly cut the west's supply of goods off I'm sure one of their cheapest competitors would happily step in to fill the void. Or if it got too expensive then they would be produced in the west.

Re:You cannot compare... (4, Insightful)

what about (730877) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979214)

Oil and wind/photovoltaic/nuclear share something, they are energy producer.

Two issues at the table
1) It would be OK to pay for energy to a foreign state if the money comes back to buy something (goods or services).
      It is NOT ok if the money comes back to buy companies, land or buildings since this just means selling OUR country (whatever it is) to buy energy. (selling you house is NOT the same as selling what you produce)

2) It takes time to "acquire" technology AND production plants, if you are in a race and you lose out to the top runners it will be very unlikely
      that later on you catch up, you will be just left out of the race (there are now plenty of jobs for unskilled workers, it is that we still
      have enough money to "avoid" them, but this will not last long)

I stand that there are advantages to global economy but as usual there are disadvantages, we better know the two sides of the coin before jumping to quick conclusions.

In other words I suggest that at least 50% of needed energy should be produced in the country where it is used and it should be produced by companies based and staffed by the people of the country.

Re:You cannot compare... (2, Insightful)

aliquis (678370) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979414)

I stand that there are advantages to global economy but as usual there are disadvantages, we better know the two sides of the coin before jumping to quick conclusions.

And since when is an equal society a disadvantage? Who would really want to say that a majority of the people should suffer and be poor for the benefit of others?

And the more advanced the poor countries get the more productive do they become. Which mean more items produced for lower prices.

So in the end the people at large get richer and more equal.

Oh the horrors! We deserve to be the only rich über elite!

Lack of land, water and food will be a different story though. Better stop relying on the bigger next generation to pay for the elders and thereby increase the demand for more and more young people.

Or we can just fight for it and die off from diseases instead.

The protectionism crap is, well, crap.

Re:You cannot compare... (0, Troll)

flyneye (84093) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979564)

What in the world are you blathering about?
The people high in the "party" will get rich.
The poor in China will stay poor and keep being a labor "commodity".
Nothing on their side of the pond really will change.
If wind power popularizes well enough, the U.S. may end up exporters of energy via grid.
Loads of the out of work labor "commodity" on our side of the pond will be happy to produce the same turbines and solar panels.
Seems like you have a young college students view of world economy. How cute and Democratically correct!
China holds a big chunk of our national debt. It's not only elders the next generation gets to pay for.
This is a very good example of why Social Security ,Income tax and increased social dependence on government since their inception were a baaaaaad idea. We haven't been the wealthy independent citizens in charge of our own outcome either.
Careful, your government approved education is a dead giveaway. Look around there aren't any more Uber rich here than in China. Probably a lot less considering who holds the notes. Clue up. Jeez!

Not even possible! (0)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979238)

Not to mention that, if you actually look at the physics, it is not possible [cam.ac.uk] to supply all our current energy needs entirely through solar and wind (renewable) power. So we will always have to have another source to supplement it like nuclear or cleaned up fossil fuels.

Re:Not even possible! (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979282)

Not to mention that if you read the summary the Chinese are also leapfrogging everybody in nuclear and cleaned up fossil fuels too.

Re:Not even possible! (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979440)

That won't change any of the "omg we don't need to care about the environment, our energy or item consumption or make things greener, because, look at China! As a country they are worse!!" .. never mind they use the energy and produce the items for the people in the US and not themselves, and they are six times as many.

Re:Not even possible! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979338)

Mod parent up. Without Hot Air should be required reading before you're allowed to say anything about the future of energy generation.

I call BS... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979508)

There's a simple solution for not being able to satisfy out energy requirements: cut down on the energy usage!

My two step program:

(1) Global per-person cap on non-sustainable energy use.
(2) Decrease the amount of population by creating global birth control laws (and enforce them!)

For some reason, both of these seem to scare the s**t out of people (W00t, I'd have to change the way I live?!) but really there's not much more that can be done.

Even if we'd solve the renewable energy thing with fusion power, the current population density is unsustainable.

Re:I call BS... (1)

aurispector (530273) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979726)

Clearly you're trolling, but lest anyone take you seriously please recall that implementing these measures would require the worst sort of totalitarian state.

WRONG! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979538)

WRONG! Have a look here: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/10/an-open-letter-to-steve-levitt/

Quote:

"On average, about 200 Watts falls on each square meter of Earth’s surface, but you might preferentially put your cells in sunnier, clearer places, so let’s call it 250 Watts per square meter. With a 15% efficiency, which is middling for present technology the area you need is
2 trillion Watts/(.15 X 250. Watts per square meter)

or 53,333 square kilometers. That’s a square 231 kilometers on a side, or about the size of a single cell of a typical general circulation model grid box. "

Re:Not even possible! (4, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979586)

It's disappointing that you are misrepresenting what that books says. First, the numbers presented on the page you link to are only for Britain (other areas have much more abundant solar resources), and the author makes lots of assumptions that are not related to physics as he comes up with the numbers (i.e., he talks about how much area is practical to cover, rather than possible, and he talks about the cost, and so on).

People living in Arizona can easily extract all the energy they need from the sun. There are people doing it.

(Of course, I don't think nuclear is a bad idea, especially right now where the main alternative is coal)

Re:You cannot compare... (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979296)

In a long-run sense that's true, but depending on the technology, there can be long lead-times in starting up a competitor. If China comes to dominate the market so much that for a period of years nobody else is producing anything in quantity, then to suddenly switch to a non-Chinese supplier would take some years to ramp up the designs/expertise/factories. So it's possible to get into a situation where you're beholden to China for a number of years with no easy escape.

(Easier than conjuring oil from thin air, yes, but not easy as in, "we'll just buy from someone else tomorrow".)

Re:You cannot compare... (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979448)

Will be fun when they make the best chips and denies export to US. Not that they would ever become that stupid.

Re:You cannot compare... (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979320)

The former is a finite resource, you can only get it from a handful of places around the world, the latter will be sourced from literally whoever is cheapest.

To make solar panels and efficient electric generators you need some pretty special minerals, ones you can only find in a handful of places around the world. Guess where one of those places is?

Whatever happens, there are going to be some interesting times ahead!

Re:You cannot compare... (1)

Rob Kaper (5960) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979512)

Indeed you cannot compare. A billion citizen country has leapfrogged a country one third its size (the US), smaller ones (the European ones) in absolute numbers? The US and EU have 820 million citizens combined.. if China outproduces us by 20%, we're on par.

Re:You cannot compare... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979660)

Yeah, but they deserve poverty, and it is really scary that they are actually doing something about it, it makes it harder to compare us to them and feel good about it.

Re:You cannot compare... (5, Insightful)

PsychoSlashDot (207849) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979650)

You cannot compare our need for oil to our "need" for manufactured goods. The former is a finite resource, you can only get it from a handful of places around the world, the latter will be sourced from literally whoever is cheapest. If China suddenly cut the west's supply of goods off I'm sure one of their cheapest competitors would happily step in to fill the void. Or if it got too expensive then they would be produced in the west.

Too expensive? No, I don't think that's the danger. Too cheap is the danger. The most important asset a country has is its workers. We've seen decades of off-shoring and out-sourcing, resulting in huge proportions of unemployment within many cities. Many Americans are unemployed pretty much because someone else - somewhere - is willing to make a cheaper thing. The global economy is a complicated system, but I'd think it would be better to actually be the cheapest manufacturer, and sell the thing to others in exchange for other things you want. If all the best things are made elsewhere, what do you have left to trade? Wood? Ore? Maybe some corn? Right. Resources. Great.

I could be wrong, but it seems to me that where the jobs are, that's where the prosperity is. At least in the long term.

You think so? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979120)

I suprised that this suprises some people. China has been securing large parts of the world's supply of rare earth elements / tantalum for quite some time. This should not really be news to anyone who has been paying attention.

Re:You think so? (3, Interesting)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979134)

I'm surprised that we can ignore all the toxic byproducts created by manufacturing solar panels and still call them "green".

Re:You think so? (5, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979202)

I'm surprised that we can ignore all the toxic byproducts created by manufacturing solar panels and still call them "green".

      Because there are no toxic byproducts created when fossil fuels are burned, or fossil fuel burning equipment is manufactured?

      I've had this argument before. Nothing is really "green", unless you eradicate the human race completely. And then there will still be animal farts to deal with. But honestly when you tell me that a solar panel has a life expectancy of 25 years, well, spread out the manufacturing "damage" over 25 years. It's not so bad after all, compared to burning oil/coal for 25 years, is it?

Re:You think so? (2, Insightful)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979278)

But honestly when you tell me that a solar panel has a life expectancy of 25 years, well, spread out the manufacturing "damage" over 25 years. It's not so bad after all, compared to burning oil/coal for 25 years, is it?

But the "damage" isn't spread out, we pay it up front and then hope to make up for it over the 25 year life span of these panels. Do we really want to do that at this time when we might be on the edge already ? The greenest way out is to use less and spend what we do use more wisely manufacturing "greener" power sources that we then use to bootstrap production of ever greater numbers of these same power sources, not this phony economic thinking.

Re:You think so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979394)

But the "damage" isn't spread out, we pay it up front ....

Better that than the way we're doing it right now -- leaving it for our kids to sweat out.

I do hope they'll figure out a way to deal with all the nuclear waste we're leaving them.

Re:You think so? (4, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979418)

Do we really want to do that at this time when we might be on the edge already ?

      So you think doing nothing is better?

he greenest way out is to use less and spend what we do use more wisely

      What you say makes sense in theory. However it's not going to happen. You would need to fundamentally change human nature. People will starve to death before that happens. You can't ask people not to breed, not to strive for a certain standard of living, to consume less. They won't listen. Oh some might pretend to listen, but if you look at the statistics it just won't be happening.

      When I was born in the 60's there were 4 billion people on this planet. We've just about doubled that. And yet when I was young I remember hearing all the time about how important it was to "control" the world population. Guess what? It hasn't happened, and it won't happen.

      So go ahead and preach modesty and frugality - you are absolutely correct. But know that no one is listening. Therefore at least let's find some other way of producing what we need in the meantime - because believe me, we WILL use all the resources on this planet at one point. ALL of them. And then we die, just like the J-curve bacteria in the petri dish when they finally deplete their nutrients.

Re:You think so? (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979366)

Nothing is really "green", unless you eradicate the human race completely.

That's an interesting idea. Presumably if there were 25% less people in the world then we'd use roughly 25% less energy (assuming the depletion of people over the globe was approximately uniform, and assuming a whole load of other things that probably aren't true too).

This raises a whole load of questions that we're just not ready to face yet, but the nature of people is to keep making more people and by the time the planet says no more (too hot, no more food, etc) there might be enough inertia in this global warming thing that the problem won't just sort itself out, so we're probably going to have to face it one day.

Re:You think so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979478)

Or China might think, hey, if we remove 25% of the people in the world from the west, we'd be using roughly 75% less energy, and solve the problem for us.

Re:You think so? (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979598)

Or China might think, hey, if we remove 25% of the people in the world from the west, we'd be using roughly 75% less energy, and solve the problem for us.

Who gets the carbon credits for that one? On the one hand China was the one who reduced the pollution, but on the other hand it's the west that now has the reduced pollution.

Re:You think so? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979370)

I've had this argument before. Nothing is really "green", unless you eradicate the human race completely.

Well, there's always recycling. There's a lot of manmade crap around that can be repurposed for power generation, e.g. oil drums and car parts can be made into wind generators. That's a green activity. Of course, it's predicated upon a polluting one, but it's still making the planet greener and thus a win.

Re:You think so? (5, Insightful)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979234)

Ok, if that upsets you just call them green-ER.

We consider CFL bulbs to be "green" by the same reasoning - they still have an impact on the environment, but it's much lower than that of normal bulbs.

Re:You think so? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979298)

Ok, let's caller them greener technologies. How's that?

Re:You think so? (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979574)

They're only "greener" if they produce less pollution per GW-year than the coal power plants they are replacing. Until they catch up on the EROEI [jeffvail.net] front this isn't assured.

Re:You think so? (2, Insightful)

data2 (1382587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979350)

Actually, you probably make a very good point as to why they just passed the west in regard to solar panels: They don't care about the environment being poluted. So it is, neccessarily, much cheaper to produce them there than in "the West"

Re:You think so? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979216)

I suprised that this suprises some people. China has been securing large parts of the world's supply of rare earth elements / tantalum for quite some time. This should not really be news to anyone who has been paying attention.

Maybe this would be a good time to re-arm Japan. They've always been good at taking down China when they've gotten too big for their britches...

Re:You think so? (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979256)

Maybe this would be a good time to re-arm Japan. They've always been good at taking down China when they've gotten too big for their britches...

China has nukes. Japan is just a little-bit bigger than New Mexico.

'nuff said.

Re:You think so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979566)

What the hell...

You war-mongering madman. What has China done wrong this time?

If you are going to whack China no matter what I am coming over to whack you. And I will have the moral high ground.

Congrats! (4, Informative)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979130)

These efforts to dominate renewable energy technologies raise the prospect that the West may someday trade its dependence on oil from the Mideast for a reliance on solar panels, wind turbines and other gear manufactured in China.

      Way to miss the point completely. As has been mentioned already, a wind turbine or solar panels can be built anywhere. Oil, however, can only be found in specific locations.

      What this DOES imply is that China will not be a customer purchasing Western manufactured "clean energy" equipment, which in itself is significant when you consider each wind turbine, for instance, costs several million dollars. The less technological equipment they purchase from the West, the more the balance of trade shifts in their favor.

Re:Congrats! (1)

Krakadoom (1407635) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979156)

Well yes, while that is true, we may ultimately have to stop buying cheap plastic crap from them as a consequence, to even things out. This in turn will lead to the collapse of 1-dollar stores and a decline in useless junk at yardsales.

The end is nigh. :p

Re:Congrats! (2, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979190)

Well yes, while that is true, we may ultimately have to stop buying cheap plastic crap from them as a consequence, to even things out.

      I'll never give up my melamine-laced White Rabbit Candy, you insensitive clod!!!

(Lawsuit avoidance disclaimer: they've taken the melamine out now. I hope.)

Re:Congrats! (1)

rumith (983060) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979198)

The problem is that electricity produced by more expensive solar panels or wind turbines will be just that - more expensive. So whatever goods are produced at a factory using these power sources will be ultimately more expensive than the competition's (provided that the competitors use Chinese panels). Rinse, repeat several times to account for multiple manufacturing steps, and either you use Chinese power sources, or you get out of business.

And no, taxing usage of Chinese power sources in America is not an option either, because then all the remaining manufacturing capacity left will move to countries with access to cheap power

Re:Congrats! (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979340)

I'm curious what the cost of electricity has to be to maintain an industry standard profit margin on an average windmill - once it's paid off. I mean there's maintenance and eventually you're going to have to repaint the thing, replace the generator etc, but what's the lifespan on the actual structure? Once you've paid off the farmer for the land usage rights, it's built, and you pay it off (in what, 20 years?) the paint, new generator(s) have got to be peanuts compared to what the initial installation cost. I'm guessing they'll be able to sell electricity at $0.04/kw hr and still make a healthy profit margin off of the thing. Electricity in TX costs between 9 and 18 cents per kw hour so in 20 years you're making between a 50 and 450% profit on those windmills, even after maintenance.
 
Short term, windmills suck, are expensive and a pain in the ass to get on the grid. Long term, they're geese that lay golden eggs. And wind generator technology will only get better as time goes on, improving profitability.

Re:Congrats! (2, Informative)

woolpert (1442969) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979644)

Electricity in TX costs between 9 and 18 cents per kw hour

Those are residential rates. Commercial rates are lower, industrial lower still, and wholesale - the market wind farms (and other generators) sell into - lower still.

Once you've paid off the farmer for the land usage rights

Many perpetual leases are written so that the grantee pays so long as they hold rights.

Re:Congrats! (2, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979378)

Not sure I agree with you. When you're considering "expense", you also have to take into account quality, life expectancy and maintenance costs too. And while goods from China may be cheap, in my experience, well, they've been mostly crap, too. You get what you pay for. For a disposable product, or something that has a short life-time like shoes or a TV, it's not that important. For industrial equipment it is very important. If you offer me a turbine made in China or a turbine made in Germany, I will take the German one right away and not even think about the price difference. You might have an easier time setting up if you went with the Chinese, but I will be laughing when your turbines break down every 6 months... sure, you want to compete with me? OK... did I mention we'll be doing sales and promotions every time you break down and your inventory dries up?

      Of course there are shitty products made in Germany (or the US), too. Due diligence is always necessary. And I am sure there has to be Chinese companies willing to sacrifice greed and excessive profits for quality, too. However some countries have a good or bad reputation for a reason.

The joke will be on China (1)

arcite (661011) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979232)

When the US attacks Iran....a major exporter of oil to China.

Re:The joke will be on China (5, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979312)

When the US attacks Iran...

      That will never happen. For all that the Iranian government has not exactly made friends in the West, I doubt that the Chinese would stay quiet. AND I doubt that the Russians would be happy with so much American presence on their southern flank. They stayed quiet about Afghanistan because the whole world was shocked by 9-11 and expected American retaliation. The Russians protested the Iraq war and Putin at the time (2003) called it an "error". Going into Iran, hmm, I think the Russians would side with China and take action.

      Laugh if you must. Perhaps you don't feel threatened by those two very large countries. I'm sure the British scoffed at the American Militia in the late 1700's too. Remember that Iran is a lot closer to Russia and China than it is to the US. Technology alone doesn't win wars. Ask Napoleon. Ask Hitler. Ask the Romans. The strategic outlook for going into Iran is bad bad bad, which is probably why it hasn't happened yet.

Re:The joke will be on China (5, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979354)

They stayed quiet about Afghanistan because the whole world was shocked by 9-11 and expected American retaliation.

No, more than likely they stayed quiet because they expected America to end up in a long, protracted, bloody and costly war much like the Russians did 2 decades earlier.....

So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979158)

Their industry still has the worst emission/waste regulations of any developed nation... that along with the poor labor protection is why everyone goes there to produce, so they can't change that without seriously hurting their economy.

No worries (2, Funny)

arcite (661011) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979184)

The US will corner the market once fusion gets perfected in 10 or so years... (seriously! Quite laughing! I'm prognosticating accurately!)

Re:No worries (5, Interesting)

malkavian (9512) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979436)

Maybe not. China has all the money to invest in research, and they're copying the "brain drain" that made the US pre-eminent in research by making a very cushy life for people that head to China to perform research.
What could so very easily happen is that China leverages its huge resources, targets them at research into energy, and gets "first past the post" on fusion. Then patents it. As the US has been very into all its legalities and IP agreements on a worldwide basis, it'd find that the only way to obtain Fusion would be to contract the Chinese companies to do the work. Or license it at a huge fee.

Re:No worries (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979686)

What are they going to do if we just go ahead and use the tech, demand that we repay the loans they have given us? Stop manipulating the exchange rate, thereby slightly increasing the costs of some of our consumer goods?

Our Technology (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979192)

"the most efficient types of coal power plants" All based on technology developed in the U.S. For instance, they were just in N.D. trying to learn(aka copy) more efficient ways of drying coal. You can spin the story however you want, it doesn't make it true. That's only what they are hoping to do. Never underestimate the ability of the world's engineers in developing new technology, and China's meger(spin word like "vault" and "leapfrog") ability to copy it.

Ideas have no boundaries (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979228)

All based on technology developed in the U.S.

While you're focused on who invented what, the rest of the world forges ahead and the US spirals downwards into oblivion.

You really don't get what's happening, do you.

But we'll have the most lawyers, we win! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979196)

That seems to be the prevailing business strategy in the US.

Who needs to manufacture anything, when you can sue everyone, and earn money from both sides in litigation?

First export the profits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979200)

1) First you export the profits by making agreements which favour your country. How? By be smarter than them, but if that fails, by having someone working for you on the inside.
2) Then you purchase assets of the now failing country
3) Finally, you bye the country which, having no money left, nor any assets will be available for a knock-down price.
4) Profit. No, it really is profit!

(apologies to Berezovski the Russian oligarch now safely ensconced in the UK, who originally used this general description to explain how he 'stole' the money and assets from the failing Soviet Union)

Nice analysis...you missed the main point (4, Interesting)

Glock27 (446276) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979212)

These efforts to dominate renewable energy technologies raise the prospect that the West may someday trade its dependence on oil from the Mideast for a reliance on solar panels, wind turbines and other gear manufactured in China."

You missed the most important point in the source article:

and is pushing equally hard to build nuclear reactors and the most efficient types of coal power plants.

These aren't "renewable" technologies, nor do they need to be. What they are, though, are the only realistic way of producing enough energy to power our society going forward.

The new generation of nuclear reactors is completely safe, and disposing of the waste products is a completely solvable problem.

Re:Nice analysis...you missed the main point (2, Informative)

data2 (1382587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979344)

The new generation of nuclear reactors is completely safe, and disposing of the waste products is a completely solvable problem.

And yet has not been solved in the past 40 years, as far as I know. Just sayin'

Re:Nice analysis...you missed the main point (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979480)

And yet has not been solved in the past 40 years, as far as I know. Just sayin'

      Oh that's easy. The Chinese will just put the nuclear waste in baby milk formula.... (ducking and running fast - please don't kill me China, it was a joke!)

Re:Nice analysis...you missed the main point (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979582)

Like most things, while there's no pressing need to solve the problem (small number of reactors, countries willing to take the waste at low cost) and the cost of solving it is non-zero, we tend to find workarounds. With more investment in nuclear and more reactors appearing, more investment will be made into solving the problem (be it improved means to clean and store waste, more efficient reactors that can burn more of the waste, a giant space cannon [boingboing.net] or whatever else we can dream up).

Re:Nice analysis...you missed the main point (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979610)

Sure it has. The 'waste' that comes out of reactors has a whole bunch of useful atoms in it, and sticking it somewhere convenient until it becomes more economically attractive to extract those atoms is a great solution (along with being one of the cheapest!).

The best place to put plutonium is back inside of a reactor, and the more stable uranium isotopes aren't that big a deal to store (they aren't very 'hot').

Re:Nice analysis...you missed the main point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979428)

There are no "solvable problems". There are solved problems, and there are as-yet unsolved problems. There is no way to predict whether any given problem will be solved in any given timescale. Of course, you are welcome to pretend you can predict this if you like (especially useful if you have an ax to grind).

As for "completely safe" ... bwahahaha.

Re:Nice analysis...you missed the main point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979680)

Ah, but where do you get the nuclear fuel to run all these new reactors?

Last I heard there is a dramatic shortage of nuclear fuel, so why build it if there is no fuel to run.

Thanks Republicans!! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979220)

And the reward for short sighted stupid idiots goes to..... the republican party!!, for making fun of the "hippies" that wanted to create a clean energy industry in the last 20+ years.....we really thank your short-sighted future vision of just about everything that is advanced technology and 21st century. (stem cells anyone?)

One wonders if the republicans are some sort of hidden army of destruction sent to destroy western civilization by bin laden and his cohorts....?

Re:Thanks Republicans!! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979434)

Very insightful, I totally missed that Clinton was a Republican.

Again, another big party lemming who can't be bothered to see that his favored party's leadership also accomplished nothing while in office.

Re:Thanks Republicans!! (1, Insightful)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979602)

Of course, if those self-same "hippies" hadn't been busy doing Big Oil's job for them by demonising nuclear power at the time, the environmental situation, not to mention the face of world politics, might be very different today (I would have liked 20 years of building more efficient breeder reactors and better means of dealing with the waste, for instance, than the status quo of pumping the waste directly into the sky). I guess it's easy to say, in hindsight, that the world might be a cleaner, better place today if we'd done more nuclear back then, but the truth is the facts were there all along, people just chose to ignore them or distort them to their own ends (on both sides of the debate, I might add).

What a difference a day makes... (1)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979260)

So much for this comment [slashdot.org], posted just yesterday...

Note that even China doesn't build many nuclear reactors. The Chinese aren't exactly ecowarriors, so it can't have anything to do with considerations of safety or waste disposal. Nuclear power is a very cool, very complex technology. It's just very expensive to build.

--Greg

Re:What a difference a day makes... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979698)

He was WRONG ON THE INTERNET.

(and only vaguely so, that they are working on building new plants is slightly different than not having built that many up until this point)

Heh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979268)

These efforts to dominate renewable energy technologies raise the prospect that the West may someday trade its dependence on oil from the Mideast for a reliance on solar panels, wind turbines and other gear manufactured in China."

No doubt packed to the brim with all the lead, cadmium, and polyethelyne glycol that they can fit into it.

Seriously, their reputation for manufacturing isn't that great. I'd much prefer to green energy equipment come from a country that doesn't care if a few tens of thousands of people are killed by it.

Just doing it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979300)

Instead of bickering, arguing and discussing options on top of trading CO2 between ourselves, the chinese got on and starting actually doing things. No wonder they have overtaken the rest of the world. Change requires people to do stuff, rather then talk about other people doing stuff.

Apples and Oranges (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979314)

If China's govt wants to do it they will, unlike the US they don't have a bunch of NIMBY constituents with lobbyists on speed dial.

Interesting Side Note (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979362)

Here in the US at least we have decided to make patents on green technology easier to come. In China they don't really do much with patents except listen to the US bitch about how they need to be more like them. China is now jumping over the US and other countries like no tomorrow in terms of innovation and production of green technology. I wonder, perhaps oh I don't know less patents = greater innovation. Just sayin

America needs to wake up (5, Insightful)

suzerain (245705) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979408)

This will be a somewhat general statement, but I'm an American and the endless flood of stories like this is quite disheartening. I've left the USA now, because it seems to be in decline, but more importantly because no one seems to give a damn. Just today I read the article about China (where I currently live) leapfrogging the West in renewable energy products (which is clearly happening, despite the West's complaints), as well as an article on Cringely's blog [cringely.com] about upcoming cuts to NASA (which is probably the single most important government agency for the future of humanity).

Then, I go over to facebook, and all I see are status messages from politically-minded friends, essentially acting like children watching a football game "Go Democrats! Fuck Republicans!" "Go Republicans! Fuck Democrats!", and no one seems to give a flying fuck about actually making changes that position the country for the future.

Take China as an example. Like every other country, they injected a huge financial stimulus into their economy, but they are doing it with purpose. They're building new highways to serve parts of the country presently unserved; they're building bullet trains faster than those in Japan, Korea and France; they're upgrading their power grid to technologies surpassing that of any other country. When all is said and done, they will have used the downturn as an opportunity to improve their country's efficiency.

Meanwhile, in the USA, they bailed out the oligarchy that runs the banking system, and then gave money to a bunch of aimless projects that just put band-aids on current infrastructure. There was no national call to action (for example..."we're going to put unemployed auto workers to work building an all-new high-speed rail system to link our urban areas" or "we're going to use this opportunity to completely replace our power grid, because we lose such a high percentage of power to inefficiency of the lines") that would have solidly improved the country for the long-term, improve its ability to transact business.

Anyone to this site ought to understand that networks are important. The Internet, power grid, airports, train system, highway system...all networks, that allow society to function. In the USA, only the Internet and highways actually work well (the power grid is antiquated and incredibly inefficient, the air traffic control system is a dinosaur and most U.S. airports are shitholes comparatively speaking to the many other countries, and although highways work well, they depend on a resource that is finite and running out). When will Americans wake up and start pushing the country to actually upgrade the country's networked infrastructure; prepare the country for the future?

I know this seems to be out of place here, but the fact that the USA is doing essentially nothing on the renewable energy front is just another example. After a while, it gets pretty disheartening.

Re:America needs to wake up (2, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979446)

America won't wake up. They built this industrial power, much of it based on cheap wages (partially as a result of our own unions pushing theirs too high. Look at towns like the suburbs of Detroit and Flint, Michigan -- because unions are led from the top, there isn't an ounce of timely self-preservation when eaten from the bottom). In return, we gave the Chinese our technology, methods of production, and the rest in exchange for cheap junk now -- and are led to dream this will open up a huge market for America, perhaps as huge as the American car market is in Japan.

BTW, where did you move to? Canada, though small in population, seems to be in the upswing, and at least their health care system is sane...

Re:America needs to wake up (4, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979708)

Oh, not this right-wing crap again.

Unions didn't cause the decline of our manufacturing sector. Germany and Japan have strong manufacturing sectors with high wages.

The real problem is wealth disparity. More and more wealth is concentrated at the top, where instead of circulating in the real economy and increasing demand and creating jobs, it goes into dubious investments where it creates bubbles over and over again.

Well, most of it: some of that money goes into campaign finance, and into convincing people like you to vote against their own interests. The labor union is one of the very few mechanisms we have to move wealth back into the real economy. Progressive taxation is another. People like you oppose both.

Instead of demanding a decent wage for yourself, as you deserve (wages after inflation haven't increased in 30 years), you simply begrudge a few industries farsighted enough to still have unions for earning a decent living. It's masochistic.

Yes, America is an unrecoverable tailspin, and unwittingly, you demonstrate why.

It's a duopoly thing... (5, Interesting)

Lorien_the_first_one (1178397) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979618)

I'm an American and a few years ago, I went to Vietnam to visit with family (someone married Vietnamese in the family). While I was there, I saw something really interesting in terms of a cultural bias. The Vietnamese have a very strong tendency to favor cooperation over competition. That's the duopoly. The last I heard, their economy was growing at 8% a year.

The Japanese also demonstrated this with their desire to build one of the fastest, if not *the* fastest internet infrastructures in the world. The goal became a matter of national pride more than how a few executives could figure out how to line their pockets and still deliver lousy service while derailing every other effort to improve matters for consumers.

The Vietnamese and the Japanese are essentially descendants of the Chinese so they would share the same cultural value of favoring cooperation over competition. They have demonstrated this value over and over again with their resilience through wars, economic strife and growing pains.

In America, the profit motive seems to have priority over all other concerns in business. The profit motive overrules the desire to cooperate hands down, every time, at the firm level, and often within the firm. This behavior stems primarily from the desire to avoid shareholder lawsuits over share value in publicly held companies. Another motivating factor, in my opinion, is that executives who have so much money that they never have to work again start to see economics as a game of monopoly. Instead of being satisfied, they strive to get more and more. The result is that there is less and less for the rest of us to earn. Which brings "the rest of us" to the point that we can't even buy the stuff we make here, and we're getting to the point where we can't even buy the stuff "the captains of industry" want us to import from China.

Competition is not a sin. It's a part of life. But competition taken to it's logical conclusion is the decline of America. Until we get it that we're a team together and that there are bigger problems to solve than how to dominate a market, we're going to face a serious decline in our standard of living relative to other nations.

Re:It's a duopoly thing... (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979638)

Competition is not a sin. It's a part of life. But competition taken to it's logical conclusion is the decline of America. Until we get it that we're a team together and that there are bigger problems to solve than how to dominate a market, we're going to face a serious decline in our standard of living relative to other nations.

For every honest, well intentioned person using this line there are a thousand con men using it to prey on the good intentions of their victims.

Re:America needs to wake up (1, Insightful)

silviumc (989732) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979622)

Wait, you moved to China from US? How's the freedom there? Did you keep your US citizenship? If yes, fuck you. How about you don't have that protection, see if you enjoy China so much. I live in an ex-communist country. I know communism.

Re:America needs to wake up (3, Insightful)

chrb (1083577) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979690)

There was no national call to action (for example..."we're going to put unemployed auto workers to work building an all-new high-speed rail system to link our urban areas" or "we're going to use this opportunity to completely replace our power grid, because we lose such a high percentage of power to inefficiency of the lines"

America seems to be somewhat unique in its hatred of such government-run projects - there are many people who have denounced Obama's proposed national high-speed rail network [wired.com] as "socialist" and it will be an uphill struggle to get legislation passed. The Chinese administration, in comparison, can decide to build those networks and immediately procure the funding without the legislative battle. Slavoj Zizek [wikipedia.org] has been proposing a very interesting hypothesis recently - that the Chinese have actually discovered a system that is more efficient, and more productive, than the capitalist liberal democracy that the rest of the world has moved towards in the last century. Maybe it will be a turning point in the development of our civilisation.

Another interesting observation is that China is racing ahead with these projects, with economic growth expected at 8% this year, and yet has very little enforcement of patent or IP protection. Coincidence? The bullet trains are a great example of the lack of IP enforcement leading to rapid development, with Siemens technology finding its way into Chinese designed and manufactured trains.

Re:America needs to wake up (5, Interesting)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979732)

Our hatred of these projects is a recent thing too. The Hoover Dam wasn't met with this kind of derision. The Apollo Program wasn't met with this kind of derision (not until its last years, when the Norquist cancer started to metastasize).

As for China --- it's an autocratic capitalist systems. Of course autocracies are more efficient than democracies. The problem is that they tend not to stay that way. Give China a generation or two, and assuming it doesn't transition to democracy in the meantime, we'll see a set of weak, ineffectual leaders who feel entitled to use their positions for personal gain.

Re:America needs to wake up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979724)

If anyone in America suggested there might be something to learn from China, or that we should work towards some of the same goals or values, they would be decried as evil socialist red communist pinko sympathiser elitists.

Re:America needs to wake up (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979742)

Something happened in the USA.
The corps got banking laws changed in the 1900, 1930's, 1970's 80's
Bit by bit they where given total freedom to create cash.
Their only goal was expansion, lower cost and fast profits.
While the cold war was on it held together, the rush for raw materials and union free sweat shop deals in Haiti, China, South Korea, Asia.
Grab the oil, sell it in US $, make the world buy US products in US $. Too poor, always aid to buy a factory, road, dam, power system, airport ect, in US $ from the US and with interest in US $.
Everything was in flux, but it held together.
The problem now is the world has worked out the game and dont they want to play the paper cash game anymore.
Why slave 90% of your population for the US oil and the US 'aid' debt and the US outsourced factory conditions?
The real question is where did it go? What happened to your tax $ on the past few decades?
Someone has a lot of real wealth and the US gov has a lot cash on its books.
What was it spent on? It was not public infrastructure in the US. US mil or out side the US?

How about Norway (2, Insightful)

tokul (682258) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979470)

In order to win race you must finish first. I don't think that China can do that when Norway is already 100% green. Or maybe "green energy" does not include hydro power.

Re:How about Norway (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979654)

Or maybe "green energy" does not include hydro power.

That's right, it doesn't. The ecological impact of hydro power is humongous.

Wind is the #1 green power. Solar is probably #2, but thermal updraft (sure, it's solar too) has potential as well. Biodiesel-from-algae has the potential to get up there too, but it has a ways togo to be scaled up.

Protectionalism (1)

Bruha (412869) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979590)

I'm not a fan of it in general it causes more problems than it solves (countries get into tit for tat issues). However, we NEED jobs in this country badly, good paying jobs for people being forced out of the auto industry and this is a perfect place to utilize their skills. It is also an insult to every American company that's been developing and building these things stateside. Buy American we develop the technology, buy Chinese and they develop technology.

Also you're spitting on every soldier who's fought in the Mid East, by buying Chinese wind turbines, solar panels etc. Do not trade one foreign energy dependency for another.

pro china BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979738)

I read slashdot quite a bit and I notice alot of fools are cheering them on..

Funny how no one cheered them on when Tienanmen square went down, or how they reverse engineer American products like the solar panel and
manufacture it without paying any licensing...

yeah.. yay for china..

what a bunch of morons you guys all are.. I thought slashdot had cerebral credibility..

commie fanboys...

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