SANTA BARBARA, California (Reuters) - China is leapfrogging ahead in the development of green technology, and the United States is “barely in the race,” a prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalist said on Thursday.
“China’s growth in renewables is astounding,” said John Doerr, partner at Kleiner Perkins, one of the most prolific and successful venture capital firms in the United States. “The results of their policies are really staggering.”
Kleiner Perkins, which typically invests in early-stage start-up companies, is best known for its investment in Netscape, Amazon, Google and Genentech.
“My conclusion is China is winning,” Doerr said. “My conclusion is that we are barely in the race today.”
As an example, Doerr said, China grew its market share in the solar industry to nearly 50 percent in the fourth quarter of last year from just 2 percent three years earlier.
The United States, on the other hand, went from 43 percent to 16 percent in the same period.
China has also pushed ahead fast in developing wind power. It overtook the United States in new installations and in manufacturing of wind turbines last year, nearly doubling its wind generation capacity from 12,100 megawatts in 2008 to 25,100 megawatts at the end of 2009.
China still lags behind the United States in total wind generation, but experts say it may grab the No. 1 spot this year.
The Chinese government has aggressively encouraged green projects and new technologies through funding and regulation, while the U.S. industry, struggling from a lack of financing because of the credit crisis, is hoping for more action from Washington on federal renewable-energy policies.
Reporting by Poornima Gupta; Editing by Gary Hill