NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Five miles off the coast of Shanghai, the Chinese recently completed the country’s first offshore wind farm.
The project was completed before construction on the first American offshore wind farm has even begun.
The Shanghai project is not just another wind farm. It’s the next generation in wind power technology and the latest example of how China is jumping ahead of the United States.
Earlier this month, the accounting firm Ernst & Young named China the most attractive place to invest in renewables, knocking the United States out of the top position.
The study ranked countries on such things as regulatory risk, access to finance, grid connection and tax climate. It cited the lack of a clear policy promoting demand for renewables in the United States — a product of Congress’ failure to pass an energy bill — as one of the main factors for the dethroning.
China has already surpassed the United States in the amount of wind turbines and solar panels that it makes. China is also gaining on the United States when it comes to how much of their energy comes from renewable energy sources.
The country that leads in the renewable energy industry, is opening the door to more home-grown jobs.
Cash is pouring in: From an investment point of view, the trend is clear.
In 2009, nearly $35 billion in private money flowed into Chinese renewable energy projects, including factories that make wind turbines and solar panels, according to the research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The United States attracted under $19 billion.
“Within the past 18 months, China has become the undisputed global leader in attracting new investment dollars,” Ethan Zindler, head of policy analysis at New Energy Finance, recently told a congressional committee.
Zindler said the money came from not only the Chinese government and banks, but also Western private equity funds and individual investors buying publicly-traded Chinese stocks.
Jobs growth, for China: The result of all this investment money is jobs.
In wind power, China-based companies are on track to make 39% of the turbines sold worldwide in 2010, according to New Energy Finance. U.S.-based companies will make just 12%.
In solar, China-based firms will make 43% of the panels. U.S. firms will make 9%.