Pathways Towards Renewable Energy in China: Prospects, Politics and Practices

Working Paper
  • Published 28/01/15
  • ISBN: 978-1-78118-198-0

STEPS Working Paper 70
Frauke Urban and Sam Geall
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China is not only the world’s largest energy consumer and greenhouse-gas emitter by volume, but also boasts the largest investment in renewable energy technologies, including solar, which are essential for a transition to a low-carbon society. How are two different pathways towards solar energy in China – solar photovoltaics (PV) and solar water heaters – supported and constrained by political debates and China’s changing policymaking environment? How do they relate to changing practices among different groups of producers and consumers? This report finds two very different approaches to solar energy in China, with solar PV mainly produced for the export market and receiving political and financial support from central government, while solar water heaters remain a ‘home-grown’ Chinese technology, ubiquitous in China’s countryside, that have developed with relatively little government support.

This is the second of a series of 4 reports from the STEPS affiliate project Low Carbon Innovation in China: Prospects, Politics and Practice.