The gigantic spending plan know as the stimulus is supposed to be spark growth in green energy. In reality the stimulus doesn’t provide a ton of money for alternative energy investment like wind or solar.
Reuters breaks out the expected amounts of green investment for the US:
- Renewable energy tax credits — $30 bln
- Water infrastructure and technologies — $20 bln
- Smart grid — $11 bln
- Renewable energy loan guarantees — $8 bln
- Efficiency upgrades for federal buildings — $6 bln
- Local govt efficiency grants — $5 bln
- Home “weatherisation” — $3 bln
- Clean coal, carbon capture — $3 bln
- Energy efficiency research — $2 bln
- Advanced batteries loans and grants — $2 bln
- Efficiency housing retrofits — $2 bln
- Efficiency grants for institutions — $1.5 bln
While it is an impressive sum of money, it remains a hodge podge effort. Only a small amount looks like it will directly benefit alternative energy industries. And even then, it’s mostly through tax incentives.
Meanwhile, China is pressing full steam ahead, investing $88 billion in energy projects, expanding its wind, nuclear and coal power production:
Guardian: State-owned power companies were stepping up investment to meet growing demand and boost economic growth as part of a government stimulus plan, said Zhang Guobao, director of China’s National Energy Administration. He also called on ministers to ensure there were appropriate measures to raise and save energy as well as using it more efficiently.
China is heavily dependent on cheap coal to generate much of its electricity but is on a drive to cut carbon and other pollution in its smog-filled cities by going at least partly green. Statistics show it consumed 2.74bn tonnes of coal in 2008, up 4.5% on the previous year, but the rate of growth was 1.6% lower than in 2007.
China’s wind market is one of the fastest growing in the world with the exception of the US. A recent study by the Global Wind Energy Council predicted it may have installed capacity of 122 gigawatts by 2020, equivalent to the capacity of five Three Gorges dams.
No further details were given by Zhang about wider plans for expanding energy generation, but the China Daily newspaper said Beijing was looking forward to eight more nuclear plants, with a total of 16 reactors being operational within three years. The country currently has 11 nuclear reactors supplying about 1% of its power, but wants to see that contribution rise to at least 5%.
The caveat here is that Obama might not want to press too hard early on in his adminstration to get more energy projects off the ground. His plan is for immediate invest in shovel-ready projects. We might see more investment like China’s in the offing.
However, the current fight for the stimulus package is already ugly. The package itself is already pricey. Does Obama or the American taxpayer have it in himself to suffer through another fight for billions in spending in the near future?