By Bob Difley
The shift away from fossil fuels to alternative fuels like bio diesel and diesel fuel made from algae–which is now being tested in airplane jet engine–as well as the the expansion of alternative energy sources like wind and solar to power the coming electric vehicle age is exemplified by the opening of a giant solar energy center by Silicon Valley based Applied Materials, Inc. and the government’s decision to invest up to $60 billion annually in alternative energy.
Wait a minute. It seems that Applied Material’s solar center will not be providing jobs and energy in Silicon Valley, or even in California–or anywhere in the USA. Instead, it will be in Xian, China. And the government’s $60 billion dollar investment in alternative energy, that’s the Chinese government, not the one in Washington, D.C.
Not only is China where the alternative energy action is, but analysts predict that in as little as two years China will be the world’s largest consumer of solar energy. And by 2013 their clean technology sector could top one trillion dollars annually.
“If the US doesn’t get serious, China’s going to own this industry,” says a spokesman from Applied Materials. “The get that these are the industries of the 21st century,” says Silicon Valley tech investor Alan Salzman (whose investments include Tesla Motors, BrightSource Energy, and Solazyme). “The level of support for green tech there is breathtaking. It exceeds anything done here on a state or federal level.”
Other green tech innovators s are considering moving to where the actions is–to China. And so is investment money–including Warren Buffett–who has recently increased his holdings in a large Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer, where electric vehicle start-ups are growing like weeds. It seems the rest of the world is getting a big jump on us while our government still diddles around with trying to get clean tech bills through the legislature. If we Americans don’t get serious about alternative energy, we will quickly lose whatever advantages we have on the international market.
Brazil is far ahead of us in replacing fossil fuels with ethanol. Denmark is powering a great part of the nation with wind power. Spain and Germany are way ahead with solar power. Will we wait until we are too far behind to catch up?
How does all this affect RVers. Take Navistar, that owns Monaco Coach, for example. They announced that they will be building an all-electric delivery vehicle in Elkhart. Delivery vehicles are the precourser to building RVs, which with their Monaco division, would be a natural fit. But how long do you think they will concentrate on trying to develop a new market in the US, i.e. electric RVs, when they can probably sell more easily all the product they can make, as well as finance expansion, just in China. If you were Navistar’s CEO, what decisions would you make? Think about it.