With an annual sales of EUR 57bn, China overtook EU and became the world’s largest clean-tech economy in 2011, according a recent WWF report.
China’s success was fueled by low labor and capital costs, stable government policies, strong R&D investment, and a well-developed supply chain.
“Political will is what separates winners from losers in the clean economy of the future, and that’s what the rankings show,” said WWF global climate and energy policy leader Samantha Smith. “Their governments invested, and now the winners are getting the sales, jobs and technology.”
Other major clean-tech regions like the US failed to seize the opportunities in the same way as China did. Even with a 17% annual growth and EUR 37bn sales, the US was still far behind China (57bn) and the EU (47bn).
It (the US) has a strong position mainly in biofuels and does not seem to be interested in advancing in other segments. The US has a good federal policy for biofuels, it lacks similar incentives for other clean-tech segments, and incentives at the state level differ from one state to the next, according to the report.
The report projects that the clean energy sector would be able to challenge the oil and gas market by 2015, with a market size over EUR 240bn.
“The countries that are capturing global markets have all realized that cleantech is an important part of their energy policy, economic policy and industrial policy. These countries are supporting the clean energy technology industry, and have stable, long-term policies generating green investments. They incentivize the right areas, and now they’re reaping the rewards,” Smith said.