Shining a Light on a Greener Belt & Road – Chinese Solar Power Investment in Southeast Asia

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As one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change, Southeast Asia is witnessing the world’s biggest jump in greenhouse gasses. The International Energy Agency estimates that the region’s energy demand will grow by 66 percent by 2040, with coal accounting for almost 40 percent of this increase. Since President Xi Jinping launched China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013, Chinese investment in coal and gas have intensified in Southeast Asia. The World Resources Institute has estimated that 75% of the $145 billion BRI loans from China’s major banks have supported fossil fuel energy projects, including $10 billion for coal plants. Although China produces 90% of the world’s solar panels, Chinese solar power companies are a notably small part of BRI energy investments, but with President Xi calling for a “greener” BRI, this could change.

At this CEF meeting, speakers will provide stories of China’s energy engagement in Southeast Asia, highlighting the opportunities for China to play a bigger role in supporting the region’s clean energy transition. Courtney Weatherby (Stimson Center) will review China’s role as an energy investor in Southeast Asia and explore the growing interest for solar and other renewables to meet region’s future energy demand. She also will share stories of new clean energy targets and policy shifts in Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. Sam Geall (chinadialogue) will discuss the Chinese government’s ambitious plan to add over 10 GW capacity of solar photovoltaic power to benefit over 2 million rural households across China by 2020. He will talk about how these solar initiatives in China could inform the government’s efforts to increase clean energy investments in the Belt and Road Initiative. Darrin Magee (Hobart and William Smith Colleges) will delve into how an interconnected smart grid linking solar power plants in Cambodia with hydropower plants in China’s Yunnan Province could balance energy supplies and reduce the need for more hydropower in the region.

**Jennifer L. Turner, Director, China Environment Forum & Manager, Global Choke Point Initiative

**Darrin Magee, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies, Hobart and William Smith College
**Sam Geall, Executive editor of and associate faculty at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex.
**Courtney Weatherby, Research analyst with the Stimson Center’s Southeast Asia and Energy, Water, & Sustainability programs.


Woodrow Wilson Center
1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, 5th Floor
Washington DC 20004

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