After trusting the top spot for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), China now leads the world in total investment in renewable energy with USD 50 billion.

The indicators listed in the report by REN21 are telling : in 2010 China was the top installer in wind turbines and solar thermal systems as well as the top hydropower producer. It added 29 GW of grid-connected renewable capacity. Renewables accounted for 26% of total installed electric capacity (18% of generation but only 9% of final energy consumption). China accounts for the world’s half of new installed capacity in wind power. It also leads the list of new capacity in solar hot water/heat.

The country plans to have 362 GW of renewable capacity installed by 2020 (the equivalent of 300 nuclear reactors), including 300 GW hydro, 30 GW wind, 30 GW biomass and 1.8 GW solar PV. Central government’s policy are complemented by initiatives at the local level. For instance, Beijing aimed to have 40% of electric power capacity by 2010 and Shanghai aimed to have 200-300 MW of wind and 10 MW of solar PV by 2010. The city of Lianyangang requires solar hot water in all new residential buildings up to 12 stories.

In spite of this major drive, renewable energy (including hydropower) only fills for 25% of its energy needs. The rest comes from nuclear 1% and thermal 73%.