Made in China
China continues to be an unstoppable force in the realm of renewable energy. A new report released by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) delves deep into the country's efforts to lead the world in laying an international foundation for renewable energy generation. The report states that in 2017, China's total investment in clean-energy projects represented more than $44 billion in investment — a significant growth from 2016's $32 billion.
According to the report's lead author, Tim Buckley, IEEFA's Director of Energy Finance Studies, the United States' decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement was an important catalyst for China's growing renewable energy dominance. “Although China isn’t necessarily intending to fill the climate leadership void left by the U.S. withdrawal from Paris, it will certainly be very comfortable providing technology leadership and financial capacity so as to dominate fast-growing sectors such as solar energy, electric vehicles, and batteries.”
Pushing Coal Out
While the commitment to renewables is impressive, China has not completely divested from its ties to fossil fuels. The country still relies on coal to meet part of its massive energy needs. Still, the nation's energy portfolio is rapidly expanding beyond fossil fuels as the nation embraces a variety of renewable resources, such as hydro, wind, solar, bioenergy, and other renewables.
China has experienced some serious growth in the past few decades, making it an industrial powerhouse — but with that has come a reputation for dangerous levels of pollution. In recent years, the Chinese government has made significant strides in changing that tide, even going so far as to shut down 40 percent of its factories for not abiding by emissions regulations.
Experts from the International Energy Agency (IEA) are projecting that China's reliance on coal will continue to decline and its investment in renewable energy projects around the world will continue to grow. With many nations around the world stepping up to more fully embrace renewable energy, the U.S. will have a lot of catching up to do if it hopes to be a force in the renewable energy revolution.