WITH the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf, talk has once again turned to clean energy. What few people appreciate is that the demand for everything from solar panels to energy-efficient light bulbs is already booming. Worldwide, $162 billion was spent in new clean-tech investments in 2009 alone.
The United States, with its expertise, capital and entrepreneurial spirit, is well positioned to dominate what could easily be the biggest market of the 21st century. But as the most recent delay over the Senate energy bill shows, the country is missing a key ingredient in shaping an effective clean-tech policy: the political will to encourage the innovation, manufacturing and investment necessary to bring these new technologies to market. And the longer America drags its feet, the more it cedes this enormous potential source of national wealth to the only other country able to capture it — China.
True, China has a long way to go before it can claim the mantle of global market leadership in clean technology. Unlike the United States, however, it has spent the last few years shaping its industrial policy to achieve precisely that goal.
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Author: BRUCE USHER