China Usurps United States As Global Clean Energy Leader

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China invested a record $32 billion in global renewable energy projects during 2016 and is expecting to invest at least $361 billion into its own renewable energy sector by 2020, securely placing China as the leading clean energy player in the world.

Two new pieces of news have coincided to show that China is likely to overtake the United States as the most important global player in the clean energy sector.

Last Thursday, China announced that it will invest at least $361 billion into renewables by 2020 — a move which will serve to continue China’s transition away from coal and other dirty fuels. “Renewable energy will be the pillar for China’s energy structure transition,” said Li Yangzhe, deputy head of the National Energy Administration, the official Xinhua news agency reported (via Reuters).

Further information has not been made apparent — as to just how these moneys will be spent and in which sectors — but the announcement serves as another reminder that China, despite stereotypes to the contrary, is emerging as the most powerful and determined player in the global clean energy sector.

This news was backed up by a report published late last week by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), which concluded that China invested $32 billion in overseas clean energy projects, up 60% year-over-year. This serves to further solidify China’s growing global leadership in the clean energy sector — a leadership which is only likely to widen as President-Elect Donald Trump dumps the ‘Elect’ from his title. “The change in leadership in the U.S. is likely to widen China’s global leadership in industries of the future, building China’s dominance in these sectors in terms of technology, investment, manufacturing and employment,” states the report, China’s Global Renewable Energy Expansion: How the World’s Second-Biggest Economy Is Positioned to Lead the World in Clean-Power Investment.

The author of the report, the IEEFA’s Tim Buckley, added that the US is likely set to become less competitive economically if the incoming Trump administration follows through on its catastrophic energy and climate agenda.

“The US is already slipping well behind China in the race to secure a larger share of the booming clean energy market. With the incoming administration talking up coal and gas, prospective domestic policy changes don’t bode well,” Buckley explained. “If the US is serious about stimulating manufacturing-based growth, clean energy isn’t a sector to turn away from.”

Further highlights from the report are provided by the IEEFA:

  • “China’s impressive drive into renewable energy (RE) has made it the world’s largest investor in clean energy with US$102.9bn invested in renewables (excluding large hydro) in 2015, up 17% over 2014. This represents well over one third of global investment, with the U.S. in second place, but well behind, at US$44.1bn.1 Most of this Chinese investment has been domestic, but Chinese companies and institutions are increasingly looking overseas for opportunities in renewable energy development.”
  • “China will install 36% of all global hydro electricity generation capacity from 2015-2021. Similarly, China will install 40% of all worldwide wind energy and 36% of all solar in this same period.”
  • “Five of the world’s six largest solar-module manufacturing firms in 2016 are in China.”
  • “On the wind front, Goldwind, a Chinese company, overtook Vestas in 2015 to become the largest wind-turbine manufacturer globally. Counting its more domestic-focussed companies, which included United Power, Ming Yang, Envision and CSIC, China owns five of the ten top wind-turbine manufacturing firms.”
  • “China’s Tianqi Lithium is the largest lithium ion manufacturer globally following its acquisition of Talison Lithium in 2012 and Galaxy’s Jiangsu processing facility in 2015.”
  • “Chinese leadership and control of the global lithium sector is developing along the lines of the rare-element mining and processing sector, which is now 90% and 72% controlled respectively by Chinese enterprises.”
  • “State Grid Corp of China (SGCC) is the world’s largest electricity utility, employing over 1.9 million staff and generating annual sales of US$330bn.”
  • “In a series of government development policies for ‘Going Global’ that include ‘One Belt, One Road,’ the ‘Silk Road Fund,’ the ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor,’ and the ‘Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor,’ international renewable energy investment has become a key focus for China.”
  • “China holds 3.5 million of the 8.1 million renewable energy jobs globally. This compares to 769,000 jobs dependent on renewables in the U.S.”

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Joshua S Hill

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (, and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at for more.

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