China Launches A $361 Billion Secret Takeover... In Renewable Energy

A lot of press in recent weeks about solar power finally getting price-competitive with fossil fuels. Due to rapidly falling production costs for solar cells.

That’s largely due to cheap manufacturing in China. And several news items this week suggest that nation doesn’t just want to supply the renewable energy revolution — China wants to own the clean energy space.

That was the message from Beijing last Thursday. When officials announced a massive $361 billion investment program for wind, hydro, solar and nuclear projects across China.

Here’s the incredible thing. All of that cash is planned to be spent by 2020 — meaning China is on pace to spend $72 billion yearly on renewables, starting this year.

And that’s just the domestic spending. Internationally, China’s buying in renewables projects is ramping up equally fast.

That was the finding from a report late last week by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (Ieefa). Which noted that Chinese firms completed a record $32 billion worth of acquisitions in overseas renewable projects during 2016.

That big spend represents a 60 percent increase from China’s buying of international renewable projects during 2015. And included an array of different sectors — including wind and solar farms in Australia, lithium mining in Chile, and waste-to-power projects in Germany.

In fact, the Ieefa report observed that China has quietly grabbed a stranglehold on the global renewables industry. Today, Chinese owners control five of the world’s six largest solar manufacturing firms, in addition to the world’s largest producers of wind turbines and lithium ion batteries.

The report’s authors summed up saying, “At the moment China is leaving everyone behind and has a real first-mover and scale advantage.” Watch to see if the international buying spree continues in 2017 — and whether the massive domestic spend on renewables unfolds as planned.

Here’s to being on top.

By Dave Forest