China’s Renewable Exports Grow by 35% Between 2019-2023

Chinese renewable product exports grew 35% from 2019 to 2023, driven by competitive prices and production capacity domination, according to the new ‘Looking overseas’ report from Wood Mackenzie.

Energy batteries surpassed solar modules and became China’s primary renewable energy commodity export over the last four years. In the same time period, wind and solar project investment increased by 26%, and accounted for 39% of total Belt and Road projects in 2023.

Chinese renewable energy companies are actively looking for global business opportunities, according to the report. Renewable energy investors tend to invest in markets with high power demand, stable business environments and predictable revenue streams. Meanwhile, Chinese manufacturers are targeting markets with local content requirements to become regional manufacturing hubs.

“Renewable energy is favoured by Chinese developers in near-term overseas investment compared to other conventional power generating technologies. More than a hundred wind and solar projects have been developed in the Belt and Road market in the past decade,” said Xiaoyang Li, Director APAC Power & Renewables Research at Wood Mackenzie.

Integrated supply chains, rapidly declining prices, and a high standard of performance have enabled China-based renewable manufacturers to supply more than 65% of the total global demand, and Wood Mackenzie expects this trend to continue.

Low manufacturing costs have supported China-based renewable manufacturers in offering attractive prices, which are up to 200% lower compared to Western players in the major competing markets. The report found that prices for non-Chinese products are double those of comparable China-made equipment.

“Benefitting from a robust domestic supply chain, equipment produced by Chinese manufacturers overseas remains price-competitive despite an uplift due to inflation uncertainty and higher production costs,” Li said.  

According to the report, interest in overseas renewable project investment by Chinese companies is increasing, but progress is slow due to high development risks and uncertain revenue flow. 

Li added: “Backed by strong equipment supply chains from Chinese manufacturers, Chinese solar and storage investors prefer greenfield investment when looking for overseas opportunities. Meanwhile, wind power investors tend to acquire existing assets, considering long construction periods and high development risks.”

Markets with high power demand, stable business environments and predictable revenue streams are favoured by Chinese investors, but geopolitical issues are also encountered in these markets.