It seems that way sometimes. According to UNEP’s report, Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2013, “Renewables are picking up speed across Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa, with new investment in all technologies… Markets, manufacturing, and investment shifted increasingly towards developing countries during 2012.” For instance, after running even with the United States during 2011, China became the dominant country for renewable energy investment in 2012, according to the report.
This doesn’t mean the United States isn’t in the race. According to The Economist, an analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance found the U.S. and China traded about $6.5 billion in solar, wind, and smart-grid technology and services during 2011. America sold about $1.5 billion more to China than it imported. The Economist concluded, “American ingenuity is required to supply Chinese factories with such things as polysilicon and wafers for photovoltaic cells, and the fiberglass and control systems used in wind turbines.”
So, what does the future hold? Kiplinger’s Letters said solar power production will double in 2013 and move ahead of geothermal power as a source of clean energy. They believe wind energy will soon rival hydroelectric power, as well.
The UK, on current levels of growth, will be delivering 10 percent of the UK electricity needs by the end of 2013.
Global investment in renewable energy may have fallen during 2012, but that doesn’t mean the industry has lost momentum. Renewable energy is gaining share in a growing number of countries and regions, including the European Union where renewable energy – primarily solar and wind power – accounted for about 21 percent of electricity consumption in 2011, and almost 70 percent of new electric capacity in 2012.
Renewables just may prove to be the tortoise in the energy race.