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China Tops Renewables Investment Rankings, U.S. Regains No. 2 Spot

Renewable Energy
China's Electrical and Mechanical Services Department Headquarters. Wikimedia Commons

For the third time in a row, China has placed first on a top 40 ranking of renewable energy markets around the world.

The bi-annual Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index (RECAI) was released Tuesday by London-based accountancy firm Ernst & Young.


Despite being the world's largest emitter and remaining heavily dependent on coal, China is shifting towards clean energy amid concerns of air pollution and climate change. In its pledge as part of the Paris agreement, the country said it will aim to source 20 percent of its energy in 2030 from low-carbon sources.

China has emerged as a global leader in solar generation. Last July, the nation exceeded the government's 2020 goal of 105 gigawatts of total solar PV capacity, an amazing feat considering how it only had 100 megawatts of solar PV capacity installed a decade ago. China hit 130 gigawatts of total solar capacity in 2017, making up 32.4 percent of all installed capacity globally.

According to the latest RECAI, the U.S. and Germany leapfrogged over India, which fell from second to fourth place. India's threat of a 70 percent tariff on imported solar panels and low power bids sparked "investor concerns" regarding its "over-ambitious" 2022 solar power goals.

"While the current economic climate has driven a relentless focus on costs, that focus is paying dividends with the global cost of electricity from renewable sources falling year-on-year," Ben Warren, the chief editor of RECAI, said in a statement. "Combined with the plunging cost of battery technology, we anticipate further rapid growth of the evolving renewable energy sector in the coming years."

The U.S. was in third place in the previous RECAI due to President Donald Trump's energy policies. However, in the current index, a press release noted that Trump's 30 percent tariffs on solar panel imports have been mostly absorbed by the market and wind projects are not subject to subsidy cuts under the recently passed U.S. tax reform bill.

The report adds another reason why Trump will never stop the renewable energy revolution.

"Solar import tariffs imposed by the U.S. government in January are likely to have only a limited impact on solar energy development in the country but are likely to tip the scales toward wind projects at the utility scale," the report said, as quoted by Reuters.

"The solar tariffs—which are to be challenged under World Trade Organization rules—are neither expected to seriously derail U.S. solar investment, nor encourage much, if any, shifting of solar manufacturing back to the U.S.," it added.

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A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

Michael Schade / Twitter

At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.