Analysis: Clean energy was top driver of China’s economic growth in 2023

By Lauri Myllyvirta, Lead Analyst at CREA and Senior Fellow at the Asia Society Policy Institute; and Qi Qin, China Analyst at CREA. Jingcheng Dai, Xinyi Shen and Chengcheng Qiu at CREA contributed research.

Clean energy contributed a record CNY 11.4 tn (USD $ 1.6 tn) to China’s economy in 2023, accounting for all of the growth in investment and a larger share of economic growth than any other sector.

This sector-by-sector analysis for Carbon Brief, based on official figures, industry data and analyst reports, illustrates the huge surge in investment in Chinese clean energy last year – in particular, the so-called ‘new three’ industries of solar power, electric vehicles (EVs) and batteries.

Other key findings of the analysis include:

  • Clean-energy investment rose 40% year-on-year to 6.3tn yuan ($890bn), with the growth accounting for all of the investment growth across the Chinese economy in 2023.
  • China’s $890bn investment in clean-energy sectors is almost as large as total global investments in fossil fuel supply in 2023 – and similar to the GDP of Switzerland or Turkey.
  • Including the value of production, clean-energy sectors contributed 11.4tn yuan ($1.6tn) to the Chinese economy in 2023, up 30% year-on-year.
  • Clean-energy sectors, as a result, were the largest driver of China’ economic growth overall, accounting for 40% of the expansion of GDP in 2023.
  • Without the growth from clean-energy sectors, China’s GDP would have missed the government’s growth target of ‘around 5%’, rising by only 3.0% instead of 5.2%.

Continue reading the full analysis on Carbon Brief.