Briefing Paper

China plans to dominate clean tech race

By ,

Chinese solar

In March 2016, China published its official 13th Five-Year Plan, which sets out their development pathway from 2016 to 2020. This Plan builds upon the previous five years and aims to create a strong foundation for China’s green, robust and resilient economy over the next two decades.

China has caught up to and overtaken the EU across a range of low carbon economic sectors, including clean energy investment, R&D spending, power transmission grids and production and sales of electric vehicles.

The new 5 year plan accelerates these trends. China plans to more than double its wind energy capacity, nearly treble its solar capacity, and increase electric vehicles by a factor of 10. Meanwhile, clean investment in Europe has fallen sharply and will weaken further on the basis of current targets.

  1. China is investing over twice as much in clean energy than the EU.


  2. With plans to deploy 3.5 times more wind power and 6 times more solar, China is leaving Europe behind.


  3. Chinese R&D spending has risen 73% in the last 5 years – compared to 17% in the EU.


4. Strongly competitive on electric vehicles, China plans to increase sales tenfold by 2020.


  5. Large-scale investment in low carbon infrastructure will help China dominate wind and solar energy markets.


China’s new plan poses a strategic challenge for Europe’s low carbon economy. While growing markets will lower the cost of clean technology and create new opportunities for European firms, Europe’s clean investment has fallen sharply and it is at risk of losing its low carbon competitive advantage if its domestic clean energy markets continue to weaken. European governments need to respond to this new economic reality - including by strengthening the EU’s clean energy goals and low carbon economic strategies.

Read the full E3G report on China's 13th 5 Year Plan [PDF – 1.9MB]

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