A 2019 report by environmental NGO Greenpeace found that China’s Belt & Road Initiative has led an investment surge in energy infrastructure in the regions covered by the plan – particularly south and Southeast Asia – over the five years to 2014 to 2019.
Investment in Belt & Road countries has supported 12.6 GW of new wind and solar power generation capacity. That compares with just 450 MW in the previous five years. Some 93% of the wind and solar investment went to south and Southeast Asia.
“Solar now presents a serious rebuttal to any pattern of Chinese overseas pro-coal bias,” said Liu Junyan, a Beijing-based climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace East Asia. “Chinese investors’ ratio of coal to solar is now the same at home and abroad – both are still six-to-one coal, unfortunately, but I’m amazed to see what five years of equity investment in solar made possible.”
Of the 12.6 GW of renewables capacity to be funded by Chinese investment, 1.7 GW has already been installed – 1.2 GW of it solar. For PV, that represents a 280% increase in capacity funded through equity investment.
At the end of 2019 a further 10.8 GW project pipeline in Belt & Road countries had received equity investment from Chinese companies. The largest single recipient of Belt & Road related investment was Pakistan, where equity investments from China accounted for 36.8% of the country’s new wind capacity from 2014 to 2018.
In January 2021 the Financial Times reported that “renewable power has for the first time made up the bulk of China’s Belt and Road Initiative energy investments.Wind, solar and hydropower collectively made up 57 per cent, or about $11bn, of China’s total investment in energy infrastructure in 2020, up from 38 per cent in 2019.”