ChinaFAQs: Renewable Energy In China: A Graphical Overview of 2012

Key Points:

  • Currently, China gets about 8% of its total primary energy from renewable sources. Official targets aim to increase the share of primary energy from non-fossil sources to at least 11.4% in 2015 and 15% in 2020.1
  • Hydropower: China currently has the largest hydropower capacity in the world, with about 229 gigawatts (GW) currently, and a target of 290 GW for 2015.
  • Wind Power: China ranks 1st in the world in installed wind power capacity, with about 75 GW. China is also the world’s fastest-growing installer of wind, and it aims to have 100 GW of wind installed by 2015.2
  • Solar: China is also attempting to dramatically scale up solar power, planning to have at least 35 GW of installed solar by 2015, and currently has around 7.5 GW installed.
  • Investment: China was the number one investor in renewable energy in 2012, accounting for nearly a quarter of global investment

Source: see endnote 3

Source: see endnote 4

Source: see endnote 5

Source: see endnote 5

For more information see: Renewable Energy In China - An Overview

This fact sheet is a product of ChinaFAQs, a joint project of the World Resources Institute and experts from leading American universities, think tanks and government laboratories. Find out more about the ChinaFAQs Project at:


Jonathan Moch
ChinaFAQs Project Specialist,
Climate and Energy Program

World Resources Institute
(202) 729-7845


1. For a list of China’s various energy related targets, see ChinaFAQs issue brief: “ Why is China Taking Action on Clean Energy and Climate Change?

2. For a more detailed analysis of China’s wind industry and the challenges it faces, including integrating wind projects with the electric grid, see: Lewis, Joanna. “Building Our Clean Energy Industries: Learning from China’s experience in wind power

3. REN21. 2013. Renewables Global Status Report: 2013 Update (Paris: REN21 Secretariat). Retrieved at:

4. Total global investment in renewable energy in 2012 was $269 billion. Investment data are from Bloomberg New Energy Finance and include all biomass, geothermal, and wind power projects of more than 1 MW; all hydropower projects between 1 MW and 50 MW; all solar projects, with those less than 1 MW estimated separately and referred to as small-scale projects, or small distributed capacity; all ocean energy projects; and all biofuel projects with a capacity of 1 million litres or more per year. This data therefore also excludes investment in research and development. Data presented in Bloomberg New Energy Finance, “Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race 2012.” Data available at: papers/whos-winning-the-clean-energy- race-2012-edition/

5. BP. 2013. BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2013. (London: BP p.I.c.) Retrieved at:

6. Data sources differ over whether the U.S. or China has more installed solar PV as of the end of 2012. REN21 reports that China has 7.0 GW of installed solar PV and the U.S. 7.2 GW installed. BNEF reports China has 6.98 GW of solar PV and the U.S. 7.64 GW. BP reports that China has 8.3 GW and the U.S. 7.31 GW of installed solar PV.