China number two economy in world, number one wind power market

China’s growing significance as a global powerhouse was further highlighted earlier this week with news that the nation is now the number two economy in the world, after bumping Japan off its almost four-decade-long perch behind the US.

With more than 1.3 billion people, the world’s most populated nation crept past Japan in the second quarter with an economy valued at $1.33 trillion.

“The milestone, though anticipated for some time, is the most striking evidence yet that China’s ascendance is for real and that the rest of the world will have to reckon with a new economic superpower,” said a Sunday story in The New York Times.

Japan’s economy for the same quarter was valued at approximately $1.28 trillion, the story said, adding China’s economy will likely race past Japan’s for the full year.

“Experts say unseating Japan — and in recent years passing Germany, France and Great Britain — underscores China’s growing clout and bolsters forecasts that China will pass the United States as the world’s biggest economy as early as 2030,” the story added.

In addition to be being the biggest country in the world, China is also the largest emitter of greenhouse gasses and, according to the International Energy Agency, is now the world’s largest energy user.

It was also, according to the Global Wind Energy Council, the largest wind turbines market in 2009, more than doubling its wind farm capacity from 12.2 GW in 2008 to 25.8 GW, adding a staggering 13.8 GW of capacity, and just slipping past Germany to become the world’s number two in total installed capacity, behind the US.

While this figure is impressive, the EU as a whole is still far ahead with a total installed capacity of nearly 65 GW, which meets around 5% of the EU’s electricity demand.

If the 20th century was sometimes called the American century, will the 21st be China’s?

Getting used to dealing with this seemingly unstoppable emerging superpower will require insight, patience and the ability to change our ways when change is required. The expanding Chinese market is, however, also providing business opportunities for European wind energy companies.

Moreover, unlike other products which have relocated manufacturing to Asia, wind turbines manufacturing will stay in Europe as long as there is a market for them in Europe.

Just as China is proving the business-as-usual approach is all but dead, the European emissions-free wind power sector can also continue to be a lead player in providing increasing amounts of free, abundant and local green electricity. But it’s vital that Europe is not complacent – its position as wind energy world leader is real today but far from assured in the coming years

By Chris Rose,