US Risks Falling Behind Developing Nations in Electricity Technology
Environmental issues, dwindling fossil fuel reserves and the meteoric rise of the Chinese economy make the planet’s current energy model unsustainable in the coming decades. Emerging technologies such as wind, solar, and geothermal power, as well as yet to be discovered technologies, will play an ever-increasing role in tomorrow’s global energy mix. The economic future of entire nations could rise or fall based on the outcome of this extraordinary shift in energy production and technology.
Energy, and more specifically electricity, is the driver of economic activity in the modern world, and today’s “alternative” energies will become tomorrow’s mainstream energy. If the U.S. is to have any chance of maintaining its tenuous position as the most prosperous nation on earth, it must be at the forefront of this coming revolution. Tomorrow’s leadership and innovation in emerging energy technologies depends on today’s investments.
Developing nations are under more pressure at present to modernize their energy infrastructure because of growing urbanization and an expanding middle class, especially in China. This leads to greater demand for electricity and other energy. The need for energy innovation is real and immediate for these nations. It becomes a front-burner issue that gets more immediate attention and investment both from the public and private sectors. By contrast, in America the need for energy modernization is understood, but it’s more of an abstract concept with future ramifications, yet with less immediate urgency ascribed to it. It’s the difference between doing a thing because you should do it, and doing a thing because you must.
The result is less private capital investment in tomorrow’s energy solutions in the U.S. China now leads the world in the amount of private investment in clean energy technologies, surpassing the United States in 2009. In fact, the United States is now 3rd among G20 nations in this metric, behind both China and Germany. On a relative basis, the lag is even more stark with the U.S. ranking 10th among the G20 nations in clean energy investment as a percentage of GDP.Continued on the next page