Clean energy corral

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A worker cleans the "Sunny Valley", a structure to capture solar energy at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo site. Courtesy of Reuters

Chinese installations of wind turbines and solar panels to replace coal-burning power plants helped Asian clean energy investment to grow during the recession last year, in contrast to a big drop in North and South American investment in the sector,

.

The US$37.3 billion of spending last year on energy systems in the Asia-Pacific region using the sun, wind and biofuels compared with $32bn for the Americas, surpassing it for the first time.

"China's big appetite for green energy to swiftly reduce its heavy dependence on coal was a major driving force," said Hidetoshi Shioda, a senior energy analyst at Mizuho Securities in Tokyo. "Looking ahead, China's appetite for alternative-energy investment will probably remain strong this year."

More clean energy news from the China, Italy, Japan the UK and US follows.

CHINA

- China may source as much as 13 per cent of its energy supply from alternatives to fossil fuels by 2015, up from 9 per cent currently,

, the head of energy research at the country's National Development and Reform Commission. Asia's most populous nation would boost the development of hydro power, wind and solar energy, and nuclear power, he told a conference in Beijing today. The Chinese government's target is for the country to derive 15 per cent of its power supply from non-fossil sources by 2020.

- Xie Zhenhua, China's top climate negotiator,

that the country is on course to meet its target this year for cutting energy use per unit of GDP by 20 per cent from the base level in 2005.

-

, a company partly owned by China's sovereign wealth fund, agreed to buy a majority stake in a maker of solar-cell parts. The company, which is already China's largest polysilicon producer, said it would acquire more than 70 per cent of

l, a manufacturer and supplier of polysilicon and wafers to firms operating in the solar industry.

- Southern California's

has signed an

to build a series of solar power plants in China. The US company will supply China Shandong Penglai Electric Power Equipment Manufacturing with the technology to build solar farms over the next decade with a total capacity of 2,000 megawatts. The initial project will be located in the Mongolian desert in northern China. The $5bn investment would be the largest such project in China.

ITALY

- Italy's wind-power output set a record last year, after installed capacity was more than quadrupled. The country's

said the 6.7 terrawatt hours of energy generated by wind last year was equivalent to the consumption of 7 mllion people and saved 4.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

JAPAN

-

said it aims to increase its sales by more than a third in the next three years as it seeks to become the dominant electronics company in green technologies. The company is targeting revenue of

($101.7bn) in the fiscal year ending March 2013, up from 7 trillion yen expected for the current fiscal year. It envisages its battery and energy systems operations accounting for a third of its revenues by 2019.

- The

, the first gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle, has topped annual car sales in Japan, where buyers are willing to said six months for deliveries, according to the

.

UK

- The UK government has

for at least 25 gigawatts of wind-powered electricity generation, as it seeks to boost energy security and meet EU environmental targets by 2020. The British prime minister, Gordon Brown, said the contracts to build some of the world's biggest offshore wind projects could be worth 75 billion pounds ($119.6bn) and support 70,000 jobs.

USA

- The US president Barack Obama has introduced a

initiative to boost employment by promoting clean energy. This is to be matched by as much as $5.4bn in private sector investment in more than 180 manufacturing facilities. The major beneficies, each of which has requested tax credits exceeding $100 million, may include

,

North America,

,

and

.

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