Tower of Power

Ariana Lindquist / The New York Times / Redux

Big fan
A worker prepares for the installation of giant rotor blades atop a wind-turbine tower in China's Gansu province

In China, one doesn't have to look far to see the country's commitment to renewable energy. In cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, rooftops are now covered with solar water heaters. On the grasslands of Inner Mongolia, towering white wind turbines are popping up where only cattle, sheep and herders on horseback once roamed. While coal consumption is expected to climb more than 3% annually for the next two decades, the government has also required that electrical companies add a significant amount of alternative energy to their portfolios. With the global economy languishing, China — which is not only...

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