Today in Cleantech

Everyone knows China is spending a ton of money on modernizing its power infrastructure — but how much is going to old-fashioned steel-and-cable construction costs, versus true “smart grid” technologies? A report from Bloomberg this week provides a good example of the difficulty in parsing the two when unnamed officials and vague media reports provide the figures. Unnamed sources told China Securities Journal that China plans to spend 2 trillion yuan ($300 billion) over the next 5 years on smart grid investments. That sounds close to previously noted spending figures from Xinhua on State Grid Corp. of China’s 1.7 trillion yuan ($255 billion), 5-year plan for its “strong and smart grid,” including both tons of new transmission and new smart systems. But the China Securities Journal report tags its $300 billion to China’s plan for an “Internet of things” that includes smart transportation, distribution networks, households, industrial automation, health care,  farming, financial services and defense — in other words, smart everything. No matter how China’s trillions of yuan end up getting spent, one thing’s clear — it’s an order of magnitude more money than the United States is spending on its own smart grid at present, even if it’s expected the U.S. will eventually need to pony up more than a trillion dollars to get there.