Paula Hernández 

China: the future renewable superpower

China invests in large renewable energy projects 

At the recent Climate Summit in Egypt (COP27), China pledged to reach its peak CO2 emissions by 2030. At the same time, it also assured that it is a matter of state to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 and to stop relying on any fossil fuels in the future. This statement is in line with the latest investments made by the Chinese country in the energy sector.

Currently, China is a leader in the production of various renewable energies and also contains the largest reserve of raw materials for their use:[list-custom type="check"].

Looking to the future, China wants to be a benchmark in two major booming sectors: the solar energy sector and electric vehicles.

China's prediction for wind and solar energy production exceeds expectations

In recent months, China has set very ambitious targets for the installation of renewable energy production infrastructures. They have predicted that there will be a 20% contribution from renewable energies by 2025 and 25% by 2030. To achieve these targets, the Chinese government has set the goal of reaching a solar and wind energy production capacity of 1,200 gigawatts by 2030 and 6,000 gigawatts by 2050. 

The Asian giant has taken advantage of lower global production costs to develop its infrastructure to meet future energy demand.

The Asian giant is already an innovation leader in the electric vehicle industry

In order not to be left behind in a clearly growing sector, China started to invest in the electric vehicle sector and is now the leading country in the sale of electric vehicles and the main player in the production of all the crucial parts of the supply chain. The government played an important role, offering various government support policies to companies willing to invest in the sector, as well as encouraging citizens to buy electric vehicles. One relevant fact is that in 2022 BYD (the main Chinese multinational linked to this sector) has already overtaken Tesla as the main seller of electric vehicles worldwide.

Will China be the future leader of a new OPEC for renewable energies?

In a few years' time, there is a possibility that an organisation similar to the current OPEC will be created, although instead of the countries with the largest oil reserves, the main producers of the raw materials needed to generate renewable energies will participate. If this were to happen, we would see a significant shift of power from Middle Eastern countries to countries in Central Africa and even South America. Some of these countries would be Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Chile, Congo, Zambia and Namibia. 

All of the aforementioned countries are rich in raw materials such as silicon, copper and lithium; essential materials for the construction of turbines, solar panels and batteries. And with these countries, China has already established important trade agreements in order to strengthen the power of the Asian giant over the global renewable energy supply chain. Many experts call this "economic colonisation" or "the new era of colonisation".

The problem that will push Europe into the background in the sector: bureaucracy.

Many projects are being presented lately in the European Union focused on the energy transition so that electricity companies can stop relying on Russian gas to cover energy demand. However, entrepreneurs, companies and electricity companies are facing a big problem: bureaucracy. 

Many of these projects are stuck, waiting for approval of the installation licences, which take so long that in some cases they may even expire. Added to this problem is the lack of European investment in the creation of new mines for key raw materials for renewable energies such as copper or cobalt.

With these problems, the result will be that in a few years Europe will become even more powerful of the world's energy superpowers. And by the looks of it, China will be the great power that will dominate Europe and the whole world.

Author: Paula Hernández 

The authors are responsible for the choice and presentation of the facts contained in this document and for the opinions expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of Tourism and Society Think Tank and do not commit the Organization, and should not be attributed to TSTT or its members.

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