The U.S. has been a major player in clean energy technologies, but China is now the leader. The top six European countries, together, are spending almost as much as the U.S. The activity “flies in the face of skepticism about the clean energy sector,” says Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Given the trend, stepping up U.S. investment could enhance the country’s competitiveness; an October 2010 report from research firm Clean Edge concluded that China-based companies “are poised to increasingly dominate as clean tech employers.” Greater American effort would also slow climate change and improve energy independence; the biggest solar power plant in the world, it turns out, is being built in Blythe, Calif., by a German firm.