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China's Overseas Investments in the Wind and Solar Industries

Trends and Drivers

Shifting to a low-carbon economy will require current emitting countries and projected future emitters to rapidly scale up their investments in renewable energy. By some estimates, China is already the leading global investor in renewable energy infrastructure, and is increasing its overseas investments in renewable energy, particularly solar and wind. This working paper aims to help policymakers, investors, and researchers better understand the trends in China’s overseas investments in the wind and solar industries, as well as the factors behind those trends.

Key Findings

Executive Summary

Shifting to a low-carbon economy will require current emitting countries and projected future emitters to rapidly scale up their investments in renewable energy. In recent years, major emerging economies like China, India, and Brazil have been catching up with leading developed country investors in Europe and the United States. By some estimates, China is already the leading global investor in renewable energy infrastructure, and is increasing its overseas investments in renewable energy, particularly solar and wind. If China achieves its goal of sourcing 15 percent of its energy mix from renewables by 2020 and 30–45 percent by 2050, renewable energy will become closer to a mainstream energy resource within the country. Cost reduction incurred in this process would benefit not only China, but also the rest of the world.

This working paper aims to help policymakers, investors, and researchers better understand the trends in China’s overseas investments in the wind and solar industries, and the factors behind those trends. It examines the scale, nature, and types of China’s overseas investments in the wind and solar industries, and identifies the policy and market factors that drive these investments. China has made at least 124 investments in solar and wind industries in 33 countries over the past decade. Of the investments for which data were available, the cumulative value amounted to nearly US$40 billion in 54 investments, and the cumulative installed capacity added was nearly 6,000 MW in 53 investments. Of the 124 investments, 41 were in the wind industry, 81 in the solar industry, and 2 in both the wind and solar industries.

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