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The Demented Gift American Politicians Handed To China

Once upon a time, America was great. It wasn’t that long ago, either. We had a political system that was the hope of the world. But we also had the best science, with the greatest researchers, finding the best ways to do things. We were a proud nation, almost completely undivided on these salient facts.

Not all that long ago, we started to walk away from our greatness. We failed to support education and science, and in doing so we failed to support not only our own democracy, but our leadership in research, development, and manufacture.

A lot of the decline can be traced to political failures. Our politicians participated in, and even led, our decline. I will assert that it was not all Republicans on one side and Democrats on the other. The people giving America’s greatness away included some on both sides of the political spectrum. Clearly “R” and “D” won’t do, so we need a new label for them. I suggest we make an acronym from “Give American Greatness Away.” That would be “GAGA.”

A lot of our decline is due to our neglect of our leadership in renewable energy. Let’s start with an example comparing just two facts:

  • In November of 2020, Global Newswire reported, “There are presently close to 650 electric buses … running in the United States.”
  • Two months later, in January of 2021, Zachary Shahan wrote an article in CleanTechnica whose title gives away its contents quite well for our purposes: “BYD Will Sell 1,002 More Electric Buses To Bogotá, Colombia.”

So we had somehow fallen sufficiently far behind on electric buses that a Latin American city was buying, in a single purchase, more electric buses than existed in the entire US of A. How on Earth could this happen? And how big is the electric bus market anyway?

First things first. According to EVG Grand View Research, “The global electric bus market size was valued at USD 40.1 billion in 2021….” That was 2021, after Covid-19 beat the marketplace half to death. And according to an article in China Daily, by late 2020, over 60% of the buses in China were electric. The same article says, “Boasting the world’s largest [New Energy Vehicle] inventory, China accounts for 55 percent of global NEV sales.” Unsurprisingly, perhaps, an article from a year earlier, which was in The World, said China had 99% of all electric buses in the world.

How could this happen? Well, there are two parts. One is aggressive innovation in China. For example, the thing that had made electric buses expensive is the massive, costly batteries. BYD addressed that problem in 2018 by selling the bus without the battery, which it leased to the buyer. This was covered in Kyle Field’s article in CleanTechnica, “BYD Introduces New $200 Million Electric Bus Leasing Program In Partnership With Generate Capital.” The lease costs made electric buses, which were far, far less costly to operate than fossil fuel buses, just a lot less costly to operate. And the upside was that the upfront cost of an electric bus was less than that of a fossil fuel bus. No wonder Bogotá decided to buy Chinese instead of North American. They had new, better technology, and we had antiquated, worse technology.

The other part is GAGA. It’s politicians of whatever party (both parties) intentionally holding America back. Why would they do that? Clearly it is partly because their campaigns were paid for by fossil fuel interests. Partly, I believe, it is because of a mindless personality cult believing in one appallingly stupid individual. (I don’t want to get political here, so I won’t mention names or political affiliations.)

Unfortunately for the US, the damage is not limited to the bus market. Just take a look at Steve Hanley’s recent article in CleanTechnica, “China Building World’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm 43.3 Gigawatts.” That wind farm was proposed by one city, Chaozhou. It is to have thousands of wind turbines. By contrast, there are seven turbines in two offshore wind farms in the entire US of A. And the Chaozhou proposal has over 1,000 times the capacity. We might look on the bright side — it’s just one city with one proposal — it hasn’t been built. But maybe that won’t work after all. An early article, also by Hanley in CleanTechnica, bears the title, “80% Of New Offshore Wind Capacity In 2021 Was Installed By China.”

Okay, so our political leadership, through aversion, neglect, or suppression (maybe all three) has donated the electric bus market (and with it, a huge chunk of the EV market) and the offshore wind market (including the manufacture of the turbines that market consumes) to China. But surely, there is some good in our leadership.

Well, we could mention the solar PV market. That market is dominated by China. No help there.

Maybe we should look at batteries. After all, Elon Musk practically invented the grid battery market, right? A recent article in Visual Capitalist has this to say: “Currently, Chinese companies make up 56% of the EV battery market, followed by Korean companies (26%) and Japanese manufacturers (10%).” Clearly, Tesla is part of the remaining 8%. Well, no, come to think, part of Tesla’s production is actually being done (guess where) in China.

How did we get into this horrible mess?

I have an answer for that. Of course, it is my own, and it could be wrong. It is partly that some people understand the saying, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” So they have found a way to bring America down — it is to fund both sides of a political divide, and do it in a way to make things more divisive. I don’t have to take sides to say that I feel certain that Vladimir Putin got great pleasure out of seeing the hugely divisive Donald Trump running against the highly divisive Hillary Clinton. It was an election to bring America down.

The other thing is that some people really are GAGA.

Now, we are about to meet in another highly divisive election. But what we need is to start talking to each other.

Image: All five turbines of America’s largest wind farm, at Block Island. Photo by Ionna22, CC-BY-SA 4.0.

CC0To the extent possible under law, George Harvey has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to “The Demented Gift American Politicians Handed To China.” This work is published from: United States.

 
 
 
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Written By

A retired computer engineer, George Harvey researches and writes on energy and climate change, maintains a daily blog (geoharvey.com), and has a weekly hour-long TV show, Energy Week with George Harvey and Tom Finnell. In addition to those found at CleanTechnica, many of his articles can be found at greenenergytimes.org.

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