Infographic: How China’s Clean Tech Industry Crushes The U.S.

China may be the world’s biggest polluter, but they’re also investing heavily in clean and renewable energy solutions–and far surpassing the U.S.’s puny attempts in the process.


It can, at times, seem like a new report comes out every day discussing how China is beating the U.S. in the clean energy game. We’ve seen lots of numbers thrown around, but this massive infographic from One Block Off The Grid highlights just how far ahead China really is.

First, the basics. China’s solar, wind, and total renewable energy capacity blows the U.S. out of the water. The country has no doubt been helped by the 863 Program, a government-funded initiative that funds advanced energy technology. And, of course, hefty investments don’t hurt.

China’s reputation as a manufacturing hub has extended to the renewable energy industry. Cheap labor, multi-billion-dollar investments in clean energy, and a rapidly growing market for solar panels and wind turbines have helped the country along.

China already gets 15% of its energy from renewables, while the U.S. lags behind at 8%. This isn’t to say that China doesn’t have plenty of work to do–the country’s many coal plants are as bad as anything seen in the U.S.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, China’s renewable energy infrastructure can be attributed to heavy investment. Beijing’s $11.5
billion in asset-financing for clean technology in 2010 combined with Washington’s inability to enact a Renewable Energy Standard makes China look attractive to investors.


This one is pretty self-explanatory. China is getting ahead because the country is outspending the United States–by several billion dollars.

Despite China’s large amount of solar installations, the country spends significantly more money investing in wind than the U.S. The country also seems to be more interested than the U.S. in experimenting with technologies besides solar, wind, and biofuel.

This is perhaps the most telling part of the infographic: China values its renewable industry almost as much as it values defense. The U.S., on the other hand, is much more militarily oriented–a trait that is holding us back from quickly transitioning to a renewable energy infrastructure (despite the fact that the armed forces are some of the biggest advocates of clean energy).

Finally, China has the U.S. beat on renewable energy incentives–a key factor that has also led incentive-happy countries like Germany and Spain to become major renewable energy players (Germany, however, recently cut its solar PV tariffs, and Spain slashed its solar subsidies last year).

Will China continue to dominate the U.S. in the clean tech industry? Probably, unless the U.S. suddenly decides to ramp up investing, give military dollars to renewable energy projects, increase manufacturing, and promote cleantech investments for individuals and households. Check out the full-sized infographic here.


Reach Ariel Schwartz via Twitter or email.


About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.