Renewable energy is set to "dominate global power capacity additions" for "at least the next two decades", according to IEEFA.
China’s accelerated move away from coal and its technological and financial leadership suggest the country is "preparing to lead this new energy world", IEEFA added.
In its report, China 2017 Review: World’s Second-Biggest Economy Continues to Drive Global Trends in Energy Investment, the IEEFA highlighted the success of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The BRI, introduced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2015, has the goal of reviving centuries-old trading routes linking Asia, Europe and Africa.
Merger and acquisition (M&A) activity and investment in Belt and Road countries has helped China maintain its dominance in clean energy, the IEEFA claimed.
Chinese M&A activity in BRI countries "soared" last year, the IEEFA claimed, exceeding 2016’s total of $31 billion in August. The institute did not give a total figure for the year, however,
Additionally, the IEEFA’s identified list of large overseas clean energy projects in 2017 was valued at more than $44 billion — more than the $32 billion identified in 2016.
China Energy Investment Corporation, Goldwind and China Three Gorges all made major wind power investments in international markets in 2017, buying stakes in operating or expanding wind farms, the IEEFA’s analysts noted.
"The clean energy market is growing at a rapid pace and China is setting itself up as a global technology leader while the US government looks the other way," said Tim Buckley, co-author of the report and IEEFA’s director of energy finance studies.
"Although China isn’t necessarily intending to fill the climate leadership void left by the US withdrawal from Paris, it will certainly be very comfortable providing technology leadership and financial capacity so as to dominate fast-growing sectors such as solar energy, electric vehicles and batteries."
Buckley added: "Although it is still investing in some coal projects around the world, China will embrace the direction energy markets are moving in and is setting itself up as a global technology leader."