I've been swamped with other duties lately, but wanted to quickly point out this report from Harvard's Belfer Center. It's a comparison of energy-related RD&D across Brazil, Russia, India, Mexico, China, and South Africa, or the "BRIMCS".
Plenty of good nuggets in here, but some interesting data first. This is total RD&D spending in 2008:
Brazil: $1.2 billion
Russia: $734 million
India: $667 million
Mexico: $170 million (2007)
China: $7.2 billion
South Africa: $209 million
China has a whopping lead on spending, six times that of the next largest spender Brazil. But here's the kicker, the report puts US spending at $4.1 billion, just over half of what China spent in the same year.
Of course, this figure alone says little about how the money is being spent and whether the capital is deployed efficiently. And there is plenty of evidence that suggests that some Chinese capital can be used much more efficiently. In addition, it seems difficult to determine how much spending was channeled proportionally toward the second "D", or deployment/demonstration, especially for China. I am not certain that Chinese stats break down the different categories so precisely.
These issues aside, the gap in energy spending among the leading emerging markets is striking. And I think it does reflect to some degree the seriousness with which China pursues energy technologies and its quest to lead the pack. I don't have a larger point to make here, but people interested should check out the report.