With the December 31 deadline for the extension of the wind power production tax credit looming, the future of American green energy hands in limbo. The US might to look to other countries that are dedicated to the development of the renewable energy sector.
China is in its 12th five year plan and places strong emphasis on boosting economic growth through development of seven emerging industries: new energy, energy conservation and environmental protection, biotechnology, new materials, new IT, high-end equipment manufacturing and clean energy vehicles. China is understandably more aggressive in its investments in a low-carbon economy. The country aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 45 percent per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020, compared with 2005 emission levels. China seeks to increase the use of non-fossil fuels as a percentage of total energy use to 11.4 percent by 2015 and 15 percent by 2020.
Japan recently approved incentives for renewable energy, which will help the country decrease its dependence on nuclear power and increase clean energy programs, such as offshore wind farms. These incentives could result in billions of dollars in clean energy investment, expanding revenue from renewable generation and equipment, including wind turbine components such as ultracapacitors, to more than $30 billion by 2016. Just 1 percent of Japan’s power supply comes from renewable energy sources, apart from hydro-electric dams which account for most of the rest of the electric power. Despite the low starting point, Japan has the potential to generate cleaner and safer energy from renewable sources such as the sun, wind and geothermal. Over the past decade, Japan’s wind power capacity has multiplied to 2.5 million kilowatts, and the Japan Wind Power Association estimates the country can generate 740 million kilowatts of wind power on a commercial basis on land and offshore.
Germany also announced a shift away from nuclear power last year with an ambitious plan to shut down all of its 17 nuclear reactors within a decade and replace the 30 percent of the energy currently generated by nuclear reactors with renewable power. The country pledged to obtain 80 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2050. Currently, Germany gets 17 percent of its electric power from clean energy sources, about half-way to its target of 35 percent by 2030. The aggressive energy policies have also stimulated the job market in the country with 382,000 new clean energy technology jobs, and this number expected to reach 600,000 by 2020.