But a race for what? China heavily subsidizes ridiculously inefficient solar cells so heavily subsidized American companies can afford to buy them - but nobody really wants the product. It doesn't work.
In California, government green energy money goes almost exclusively to rich people. It's not really better for society if rich people are getting solar panels rather than poor people getting weather proofing for lower income dwellings.
Chu's contention is that we are 'falling behind' if we don't invest some magical number he claims China is investing. 'Falling behind' and 'losing leadership' are buzzwords for people who believe in a pet project even when the numbers don't add up; if you claim America will 'fall behind' if it doesn't fund the next Big Science Project or America will 'fall behind' if we don't fund some futuristic war plane and you can't see why opponents ridicule it, it's because it is your pet cause.
Chu hates CO2, I get that, but crippling American coal companies so China can continue to belch enough emissions from coal that they can also afford to 'lead' in solar energy is not an economic win. We don't have low-paid peasants, we do have an EPA, there is no way to produce solar panels cheaper than China can produce them.
So let them produce them. A politician has not been this excited about 'green energy' since Al Gore was forcing ethanol on us. Once his political career was over, he admitted he pushed ethanol just to appeal to corn farmers. Beware politicians claiming to care about the environment and claiming magic will make inefficient technology viable.
Secretary Chu’s ‘Clean Energy Race’ Blather by Marlo Lewis PJ Media