Much of the debate within renewables is frequently wrapped up with ensuring a viable market. It’s one of the reasons that the industry works hard to lobby Governments around the world to provide a secure framework that will encourage investors to seriously consider the technology as a serious asset class.
In the Western world, this is of course key. Cash strapped Governments wrestling with austerity, climate skeptics and vocal minorities opposed to green energy, can’t afford, or secure the support, to take the entire cost onto the national ledger.
In China, however, this hasn’t been so much of a problem.
The Chinese state, awash with surplus cash, has been able to bankroll an entire wind energy manufacturing base from scratch in a fraction of the time it’s taken the established players in Europe and the US.
It should be said that, after all - despite the latest wrangling in the solar sector over Chinese manufacturers dumping their excess supplies in the European and US markets - the Chinese state has, to a degree, subsidised the development of the global solar industry.
So when this week it was announced that the Chinese city of Shenzen was about to launch a new carbon trading scheme, it garnered some attention.
Carbon trading isn’t new of course. There are 48 carbon-trading schemes worldwide, with well-established markets in Europe.
Unfortunately, at least in Europe, carbon trading is marred by a supply glut, and commensurately low prices meaning in essence that firms and investors have little incentive to get involved.
So will it work in China? It’s still too early to say, but with Chinese industry being a very visible polluter in most major conurbations, the incentive is clearly tangible.
If it does work in China, where it has failed in Europe, then there are surely some lessons that can be learnt by the global wind industry on creating a pricing structure, securing investor confidence and ensuring a long-term viability to the market.
It’s still early days, but once again, the renewables industry looks East…