B&R News: China's Belt and Road Initiative is poised to transform the clean energy industry
11 Dec 2018


Beijing, China's 12th Five-Year Plan focuses on investments in advanced technologies, especially clean energy technology. The Beijing-led initiative is expected to span 76 countries across four continents, overlapping one-third of global GDP, a quarter of all traded goods, and more than 60% of the world's total population. Participants include Russia, Poland, Hungary, Greece, Israel, Austria, Serbia, Estonia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Kenya, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, among others.


The Clean Energy Superpower


China will invest more than $6 trillion in low-carbon power generation and other clean-energy technologies over the next 20 years. Global energy demand is expected to rise 30 percent by 2040 with investments in new power generation capacity expanding to $10.2 trillion. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that China has already invested $47 billion in solar panel manufacturing. China has issued nearly $25 billion worth of green bonds for infrastructure investments across a range of categories including clean energy, clean transport, resource conservation and recycling, pollution prevention and control, energy saving, and ecological protection.


Greening the New Silk Road


According to the IEA, China now has one-third of the world's wind power, four of the top ten wind-turbine makers, six of the top ten solar-panel manufacturers, and a quarter of the world’s solar capacity. China hopes to provide "green, low-carbon and circular development" to Asia's 4.3 billion consumers in the development of a "Green Belt and Road". To put things in perspective, renewables are expected to meet more than 70% of global electricity generation growth by 2023.


Forecasts by McKinsey suggest that electricity will account for a quarter of all energy demand by 2050 (compared with just 18 percent today). In fact, more than three-quarters of all new capacity (77 percent) will come from wind and solar and just 13 percent from natural gas.


Given the continuing fall in the cost of battery storage and the massive growth in electric vehicles (50% of all cars by 2050), China's clean energy investments through BRI look poised to transform the global clean energy industry.


Source: partly from Brookings Institution website