By the Numbers: China's Clean Energy Investments Show Big Strides

China Resources Power Wind Farm Visit
Photographer: Forbes Conrad/Bloomberg

China does things in a big way, and nowhere is that more evident than in renewable energy.

The world’s most populous nation was the biggest center of investment in the quarter ended Sept. 30, with $26.7 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The U.S. was second for the same period at $13.4 billion.

China’s dominance will likely continue. The nation’s leaders in November last year committed to seeing carbon emissions starting to peak around 2030, which would require adding as much as 1,000 gigawatts of capacity from low-carbon emitting energy sources. That’s roughly equal to the total amount of electricity produced in the U.S. at the moment.

Here’s a brief snapshot of China’s clean-energy landscape and electricity mix, with some projections:

433

China was the biggest renewables market in the world with 433 gigawatts of generating capacity at the end of 2014, more than double the U.S. in second place with 182 gigawatts.

No. 1

China led the world in 2014 by adding 56 gigawatts of clean energy, more than four times the U.S., which was again in second place. 

76,000

Almost one out of every three wind turbines in the world are in China. At the end of 2014, the world had 268,000 wind turbines, with 76,241 operating in China, according to the Global Wind Energy Council.

Solar power generation system in a hilly area of Wuhu in Anhui province.
Solar power generation system in a hilly area of Wuhu in Anhui province.
Photographer: ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images

 17%

About 17 percent of the world’s solar capacity is in China. Solar capacity in the country has expanded almost five times since 2012. China is forecast to add 17.5 gigawatts of solar in 2015, more than double expected additions in the U.S.

58

The Chinese government expects to reach 29 gigawatts of nuclear capacity this year, and forecasts 58 gigawatts by 2020. Japan had about 50 gigawatts of nuclear capacity before the Fukushima accident in March 2011 and the subsequent shuttering of much of the reactor fleet.

23

Of the 67 nuclear reactors currently under construction, 23 are in China or more than 30 percent of new reactor construction, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

61%

Outside of hydro, wind is the biggest clean-energy source of electricity in China. And yet coal remains dominant. The most-polluting fossil fuel accounts for 61 percent of China’s electricity generation, followed by hydro at 21 percent and wind at 8 percent.


Sources: Bloomberg New Energy Finance, National Development and Reform Commission, Global Wind Energy Council, Bloomberg Intelligence, International Atomic Energy Agency

— With assistance by Kristine Servando

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