China builds two-thirds of world wind and solar projects | China

According to the report, almost twice as many wind and solar power plants are currently being built in China than in the rest of the world combined.

Research released Thursday by Global Energy Monitor (GEM), a non-governmental organization, found that China has 180 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale solar under construction and 15 GW of wind power. That adds up to 339 GW of wind and solar under construction, significantly more than the 40 GW under construction in the United States.

The researchers only looked at solar farms of 20 MW or more that feed directly into the grid. This means that China’s total solar power could be much higher, as small solar farms account for about 40% of China’s solar power.

The study’s findings underscore China’s leading position in the global renewable energy market at a time when the United States is increasingly concerned about China’s overcapacity and dumping, particularly in the solar industry.


China has seen a boom in renewable energy in recent years, spurred by strong government support. Chinese President Xi Jinping has stressed the need for “new qualitative productive forces,” a slogan that signifies a desire to move China’s economy toward technology and innovation. Xi said the “new qualitative productive forces” include strengthening green manufacturing.

GEM analysts found that between March 2023 and March 2024, China installed more solar power than in the previous three years combined and more than the rest of the world combined in 2023. China is on track to reach 1,200 GW of installed wind and solar capacity by the end of 2024, six years ahead of the government’s target.

“The continued wave of construction ensures that China will continue to lead the world in wind and solar power installations for the foreseeable future,” the report said.

But analysts warn that even more renewable capacity will be needed if China is to meet its goal of reducing the carbon intensity of its economy by 18%, an important factor in reducing emissions. Carbon intensity refers to the number of grams of CO2 are released to produce kilowatt-hours of electricity.


Previous analysis suggests that China will need to install between 1,600 GW and 1,800 GW of wind and solar power by 2030 to achieve its goal of generating 25% of all energy from non-fossil fuel sources.

Between 2020 and 2023, only 30% of the increase in energy consumption came from renewable sources, while it was assumed that it would be 50%.

“Of course, it’s important for China to continue adding more renewable energy to meet its goals,” said Li Shuo, director of the China Climate Hub at the Asia Policy Institute in Washington. “But it’s not as simple as just building and the problem will be solved … (because) there’s no sign that the country is trying to move away from coal use.”

Previous analysis by GEM and the think tank Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air found that approvals for new coal-fired power stations had quadrupled in 2022-23 compared with the previous five-year period from 2016-20, despite a pledge made in 2021 to “tightly control” new coal-fired power stations. Growth in overall coal use rose from an average of 0.5% a year to 3.8% a year between the two periods.

Geopolitical tensions, such as the war in Ukraine, which has focused the attention of many countries on energy supplies, and severe power outages in parts of China in recent years, have increased Chinese authorities’ concerns about energy security.

China’s power grid still relies on coal, which officials see as essential to smoothing out intermittent renewable energy. Officials often see coal as a safe bet to boost local GDP, even though clean energy sectors are now China’s biggest growth engine, accounting for 40% of GDP growth in 2023.

Analysts say better storage and greater grid flexibility are needed to effectively harness the growing amount of clean energy being generated by China’s wind and solar farms.

The Chinese government acknowledges this challenge, citing lithium-ion batteries as one of the “new three” technologies important for creating high-quality growth, alongside electric vehicles and solar panels. Last year, it invested $11 billion in grid-connected batteries, up 364% from 2022.

The GEM report also highlighted China’s lead in actually building planned renewable energy infrastructure. The 339 GW of wind and solar that has reached construction stage represents a third of proposed projects, far exceeding the global construction rate of 7%.

“China’s renewable energy pipeline is twice as large as the rest of the world,” Li said. “But the question we should increasingly be asking ourselves is: Why is the rest of the world so slow?”