From solar power to wind energy to electric vehicles … from manufacturing to exports to utilization … and from the number of people employed to the vision and execution of plans … China has become the ultimate leader and the global powerhouse in renewable energy. As NY Times put it,”“China is the world’s largest producer, exporter, and installer of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries and electric vehicles.”
China accounts for 30% of world’s renewable energy, while the US share is 10%. China’s total investment in clean energy will be an astonishing $360 billion for the 5-year period ending in 2020. Between 2010 and 2019, China invested whopping $750 billion on renewable energy!
Here are some quick stats on China’s incredible accomplishments:
- China manufactures more than 2/3rd of all solar panels in the world,
- while also producing half of world’s wind turbines, which translates to manufacturing two wind turbines every hour
- China manufactures and buys more than half of all electric cars in the world! Most of them are made by domestic Chinese companies, and others are manufactured in China thru joint ventures with foreign companies such as GM, Nissan, Ford etc.
- In the end, China sold 3 times as many electric cars as the US in 2017 — 200,000 electric and plug-in hybrids sold in the US versus whopping 600,000 in China. Furthermore, China sold 200,000 commercial electric vehicles, mostly electric buses.
- By the first half of 2019, China was producing more than 3X as many electric cars as the US; and China produced 56% of world’s electric cars.
- By early 2018, there were 400,000 electric buses in China. At that time, there were only about 300 electric buses in the US. Furthermore, 99% of all electric buses in the world are Chinese brands (mostly from BYD).
There are many Chinese car manufacturers that make EV and plug-in hybrid cars. These companies include BYD, SAIC, BAIC, Geely, DongFeng, FAW Group, Byton etc.
BYD, which boasts Warren Buffet as a major shareholder, manufactured/sold over 100,000 electric (battery + hybrid) cars in 2017, handily beating Tesla! BJEV sold over 100,000 e-cars in 2017 as well (BJEV is a subsidiary of BAIC, and is planning an IPO this year).
Byton has used Tesla’s open-source architecture and produced an ultra hi-tech car that could very well end up being a serious competition. Byton starts at $45K.16,000 of them — are battery-powered! The Chinese are also testing hydrogen-powered buses!
By 2019, 99% of all electric buses in the world were made by Chinese brands like Yutong & BYD.installed almost 5 times as much solar power as the US
By mid-2019, China had 185 GW of installed solar capacity (the US was at 69 GW). By the end of 2017, China’s total solar capacity was over 130 GW, while the US was about 52 GW. Update: In 2018, China installed 43 GW of solar power, bringing the total to 173 GW.
Below is the largest floating solar farm in the world (located in Huainan province) and it uses 150,000 solar panels to generate 40 MW of electricity.
China’s extraordinary growth in solar energy since 2001 is seen in the chart below. From having 1% of the global market in 2001, it grew swiftly, crushed Japan and the US, and took over more than 65% of the share by 2017
In wind energy, China is again #1. Its total wind power capacity now is a bit more than solar — 165 GW (almost 2X the US); and the plan is to add another 100 GW in the next three years. Believe it or not, wind energy provides electricity to more than 100 million Chinese homes!
Can you guess who’s the #1 leader in hydropower by a long shot? Who else, but China! With a total installed hydro power capacity of more than 330 GW, it’s bigger than the next four countries combined (US, Brazil, Canada and India). The Three Gorges Dam in China is the largest hydro-power dam in the world in terms of capacity (22 GW).
Below is a chart that compares China to USA in the installed capacity of wind and solar power:
The US solar industry employs about 260,000 people, while there are almost 10 times as many people in the Chinese solar sector. As the picture below shows, China beats the US hands down in wind energy and hydro-power as well. The US does well in “liquid bio-fuels” only because of ethanol from GMO corn.
Environment Exports: China, again, has become the leader, starting with a tiny share just a decade ago:
Conclusion: China still gets half of its electricity by burning coal and this is a major source of pollution. Thus China still has a long way to go in renewable energy, but necessity is the mother of invention and problems are opportunities for more growth.