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Global Trade: U.S. Challenges China’s Clean Energy Subsidies

The U.S. on Wednesday filed a case against China before the World Trade Organization, claiming that Beijing has unfairly provided hundreds of millions of dollars worth of subsidies to Chinese wind power companies.

The accusation follows a petition filed by the United Steelworkers in September, which claimed that China buoys its clean energy sector with subsidies, allowing Chinese businesses to sell wind and solar equipment at a lower rate on the international market.

The WTO request alleges that the funding is in violation of global trade rules.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said Wednesday that the Obama Administration is targeting China’s wind power production grants, because they seem to require that Chinese manufacturers use only domestically-made parts.

“Import substitution subsidies are particularly harmful and inherently trade distorting, which is why they are expressly prohibited under WTO rules,” Kirk said in a statement. “These subsidies effectively operate as a barrier to U.S. exports to China.”

The case comes weeks before Chinese President Hu Jintao is scheduled to visit President Barack Obama.

U.S.-China relations are already tense: the two superpowers are arguing over a number of trade issues, including China’s currency policy and Chinese barriers against U.S. beef imports.

During trade talks last week, the U.S. persuaded China to loosen restrictions on foreign contributions to the booming Chinese wind power industry. Foreign suppliers will no longer require previous experience in the Chinese clean energy sector.

United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard expressed the union’s satisfaction with the Obama administration’s decision to submit the WTO request.

“Today’s announcement by the administration comes as an early note of holiday cheer for those workers in the alternative and renewable energy sector,” said Gerard in a statement. “The goal is not litigation; it’s to end their practices.”

Posted in Energy Industry, Energy Policy & Advocacy, International Relations & Treaties, Solar, Wind0 Comments

Energy Revolution Call Goes Out for India

Energy Power Plant in Beijing

Energy Power Plant in Beijing

Indian leaders are are pushing for an ‘Energy Revolution’ in order to protect their energy security and financial well being. President Pratibha Patil, speaking at the World Innovation Summit and Expo in Mumbai, said it is vital for the countries continued economic growth and security.

Patil believes India should consider all possible energy options, whether they be traditional, non-conventinal or experimental. Data suggests that currently India is unable to provide enough energy during peak consumption hours. Falling short by as much as 12 percent.

In addition to meeting current energy demands, there is also a push to supply energy to the estimated 400 million Indians who currently have no electricity at all, or have just enough to power their lights.

“It is time now for an energy revolution that will ensure our energy security,” she said, Press Trust of India reports.

Energy should be available to sustain the country’s growth and meet the aspirations of its people, Patil said, adding that the growth in demand for electricity has overtaken generation capacity.

“The capacity addition requires augmentation of manufacturing capacity of power equipment, skilled manpower and adoption of modern project management practices,” she said.

Kandeh Yumkella, director general of the U.N. Industrial Development Organization, told the Financial Times that even among those who do have electricity, many have just 100 kilowatts an hour per person per year, enough only for lights to function.

“They need at least 600 to 700 kilowatts an hour so that productivity can be enhanced, gross domestic product can increase and India can become more competitive,” he said.

Indian New and Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah said Wednesday that up to 10,000 remote villages across the country would be electrified with renewable energy sources by March 2012, The Hindu newspaper reports.

Most of the power is expected to come from the first 1,000 megawatts added to the national grid as part of the country’s national solar mission, announced last November, which aims to increase solar power to 20,000 megawatts by 2022.

India, Asia’s third-largest energy consumer and the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, relies on coal for more than half of its power capacity. India’s Prayas Energy Group says that nearly 1-10th of the country’s installed electricity capacity comes from renewable sources, mostly wind power.

Source: United Press International.

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Biden Issues Positive Clean Energy Report

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) — Vice President Joe Biden has issued a report to the president indicating U.S. Recovery Act initiatives are building a more energy-efficient economy.

“I’m pleased to report that the administration is laying the foundation for a clean energy economy that will create a new generation of jobs, reduce dependence on oil and enhance national security,” Biden wrote in the memo Monday. “Through the Recovery Act and more effective use of programs already in existence, the administration is taking the critical steps to transform the United States into a global clean energy leader.”

The memo outlined ways the Recovery Act and other investments are allowing the United States to make clean energy advances, and asserted the nation is scheduled to double geothermal, solar and wind generation manufacturing facilities in three years.

The memo also touted three of the first-ever electric vehicle facilities along with 30 new battery plants expected to be operational during the next six years. U.S. homes will have 26,000,000 Smart meters installed by 2013, triple the number now in service, the memo said.

There are plans to build and operate five commercial scale power plants with carbon capture facilities intended to help control greenhouse gas emissions.

All the projects are to be funded, the memo says, either by Recovery Act monies alone or in combination with private sector investments.

Biden will discuss the measures at a meeting on climate change in Copenhagen next week.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Energy Industry, Energy Policy & Advocacy, Geothermal, Other, Solar, Wind0 Comments

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