China Edge in Renewable and Nuclear Power

excerpt from China’s edge in renewable energy by Keith Bradsher THE NEW YORK TIMES

* China’s biggest advantage might be its domestic demand for electricity, which is rising 15 percent a year. To meet demand in the coming decade, according to statistics from the International Energy Agency, China will need to add nearly nine times as much electricity generation capacity as the United States will. As a result, Chinese producers of generating equipment enjoy enormous efficiencies from large-scale production

* In China, power companies have to buy new equipment anyway, and alternative energy, particularly wind and nuclear, is increasingly priced competitively. Interest rates as low as 2 percent on bank loans — the result of a savings rate of 40 percent and a government policy of steering loans to renewable energy

* China’s low labor costs are an advantage in energy. Although wages have risen sharply in the past five years, Vestas still pays Chinese assembly line workers only $4,100 a year.

* The Chinese government charges a renewable energy fee to all electricity users. The fee increases residential electricity bills by 0.25 to 0.4 percent. For industrial users of electricity, the fee doubled in November to roughly 0.8 percent of the electricity bill. The fee revenue goes to companies that operate the electricity grid, to make up the cost difference between renewable energy and coal-fired power.