Skip to Content

China, a Global Center of Energy Innovation?

There is intense optimism that the country can become the “cradle of clean energy.”
April 6, 2010

I just returned from my first trip to China, where I saw firsthand a remarkable country that’s changing so fast that the dust never settles (although, after a particularly polluted Shanghai night, you wish it would).

The country is staking a claim as the global center of clean energy, with ambitious policies that are helping to drive both the manufacturing of solar panels and wind turbines and the development of large markets for renewable energy. This is leading companies such as Applied Materials and GE to set up research facilities in China, where researchers benefit by being close to both factories and customers.

One question is: to what extent is China poised to become a source of real energy innovation, instead of a just cheap goods?

I’ll try to answer this question in future stories. One thing that became clear after just a few days in the country is that there’s intense optimism in the air in cities such as Shanghai, where glittering skyscrapers loom over land that a decade ago had been a desolate marsh. The manager of one research lab there told me about his son’s desire to attend MIT. I asked him when, if ever, he thought people like his son–that is, the most talented and ambitious of the country’s 1.3+ billion inhabitants–would rather stay in China, and attend Chinese universities. It will take time, he said, but not that long–maybe five or 10 years.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Europe's AI Act concept
Europe's AI Act concept

A quick guide to the most important AI law you’ve never heard of

The European Union is planning new legislation aimed at curbing the worst harms associated with artificial intelligence.

Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot
Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot

It will soon be easy for self-driving cars to hide in plain sight. We shouldn’t let them.

If they ever hit our roads for real, other drivers need to know exactly what they are.

crypto winter concept
crypto winter concept

Crypto is weathering a bitter storm. Some still hold on for dear life.

When a cryptocurrency’s value is theoretical, what happens if people quit believing?

chasm concept
chasm concept

Artificial intelligence is creating a new colonial world order

An MIT Technology Review series investigates how AI is enriching a powerful few by dispossessing communities that have been dispossessed before.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.