Boost production and market for renewable energy technologies to build energy security

September 10th, 2014 by Nature

A field of photovoltaic panels with wind turbines in the distance near Goch, Germany on 4 January 2012 (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

A field of photovoltaic panels with wind turbines in the distance near Goch, Germany on 4 January 2012 (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

In a comment piece in this week’s Nature, Professor John Mathews and Dr Hao Tan write that countries should follow China’s lead and boost markets for water, wind and solar power technologies to drive down costs.

The authors argue that by placing the emphasis on production scale and market growth, China is driving down costs and thereby “contributing more than any other country to a climate-change solution.”

As the scale of Chinese manufacturing has grown — production of solar cells has expanded about 100-fold since 2005 — the costs of renewable-energy devices have plummeted.

Countries such as Germany and South Korea, like China, are boosting their national renewable-energy industries and markets.

But others, including the USA and the UK, seem yet to notice this shift and are pursuing ineffective energy policies, including considering alternative fossil-fuels sources, putting trade tariffs on Chinese-made solar panels, and importing energy technologies.

Professor Mathews and Dr Tan call for a new narrative in climate and energy discussions.

“As in China, renewables must be seen as a source of energy security, not just of reduced carbon emissions,” the authors wrote in their comment piece.

The authors also highlight the need for international climate and energy discussions to address the role of markets and financial drivers in delivering renewable technologies and energy to everyone.

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