Analysis: Clean energy was top driver of China’s economic growth in 2023

(CarbonBrief, 25 Jan 2024) Clean energy contributed a record 11.4tn yuan ($1.6tn) to China’s economy in 2023, accounting for all of the growth in investment and a larger share of economic growth than any other sector.

The new sector-by-sector analysis for Carbon Brief, based on official figures, industry data and analyst reports, illustrates the huge surge in investment in Chinese clean energy last year – in particular, the so-called “new three” industries of solar power, electric vehicles (EVs) and batteries.

Solar power, along with manufacturing capacity for solar panels, EVs and batteries, were the main focus of China’s clean-energy investments in 2023, the analysis shows.

(For this analysis, we used a broad definition of “clean energy” sectors, including renewables, nuclear power, electricity grids, energy storage, EVs and railways. These are technologies and infrastructure needed to decarbonise China’s production and use of energy.)

Other key findings of the analysis include:

  • Clean-energy investment rose 40% year-on-year to 6.3tn yuan ($890bn), with the growth accounting for all of the investment growth across the Chinese economy in 2023.
  • China’s $890bn investment in clean-energy sectors is almost as large as total global investments in fossil fuel supply in 2023 – and similar to the GDP of Switzerland or Turkey.
  • Including the value of production, clean-energy sectors contributed 11.4tn yuan ($1.6tn) to the Chinese economy in 2023, up 30% year-on-year.
  • Clean-energy sectors, as a result, were the largest driver of China’ economic growth overall, accounting for 40% of the expansion of GDP in 2023.
  • Without the growth from clean-energy sectors, China’s GDP would have missed the government’s growth target of “around 5%”, rising by only 3.0% instead of 5.2%.

External link

CarbonBrief, 25 Jan 2024: Analysis: Clean energy was top driver of China’s economic growth in 2023