The Geological Society of America has warned that most countries are highly dependent on foreign sources for the rare metals used in photovoltaics, wind generators, fuel cells and high capacity batteries. Solar PV for instance often requires gallium, indium, selenium, tellurium and high quality silicon, whereas batteries need zinc, vanadium, lithium and fuel cells need metals in the platinum group.
China is one of the biggest providers of these metals but it seems that increasingly they are being withheld for Chinese domestic use. According to a new report from the Worldwatch Institue it also appears that China is starting to become dominant in the renewable energy sector and has ambitions to be a global leader in renewables.
- In 2009, China overtook the US as the world's largest market for windpower
- Chinese windpower capacity has doubled every year for the past four years
- In 2009 China's PV companies held 40% of the global market, with most production exported to Europe. More than 20 Chinese companies have successfully engaged in initial public offerings (IPO's) and five of these are among the world's top ten in solar PV production.
- China's solar water heating capacity accounts for 80% of global installations.
- China is the world's largest manufacturer of solar water heaters. Chinese manufacturers now hold 90% of the market for these products.
- China reduced its energy intensity (energy use per unit of GDP) by 15.6% between 2005 and 2009 and is on target for 20% by 2010.
- China's energy consumption doubled since 2000 although per capita energy use remains well below the world average.
- Consumption of coal in China has doubled over the past nine years and consumption of oil tripled.
- China wants to reduce its carbon emissions per unit of economic output by 40-45% by 2020. It projects renewables as representing 16-20% of total energy consumption by 2020 and 40-45% by 2050.