The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

China Emerges as Early-stage Investor, Not Just Manufacturer, of Cleantech

The U.S. is extraordinarily good at nurturing entrepreneurship and invention, but not as good at building industries around those inventions. Case in point: While America leads in venture capital investments in clean energy, it has ceded leadership in manufacturing and deployment to European and Asian countries.

Given the powerful impact globalization has had on moving manufacturing of consumer electronics, steel and automobiles out of the U.S., the dominance of Asian countries in clean-energy manufacturing isn’t a big surprise.

But now, according to new figures from Lux Research, America is starting to see competition from China with its core strengths in venture investments and entrepreneurship. In 2010, China’s venture capital investments – many of which are in cleantech-related industries like LED lighting, solar cells and batteries – rose to $5.4 billion. That’s almost an 80% jump over 2009:

“Foreign investors look for breakout technological innovations. Domestic investors do as well, but they also factor in market channels and financials when selecting companies,” said Zhuo Zhang, a Lux Analyst and the report’s lead author. “And locals are getting in earlier: Series A rounds represent over 80% of all domestic VC-backed deals, while foreign VCs have backed less than half that many. This implies that many untapped opportunities await foreign investors willing to step beyond familiar territory.”

America is still the dominant player in venture investments, representing $21.8 billion in 2010. When comparing cleantech specifically, the U.S. invested $4.9 billion while China came in second place with $479 million.

While the U.S. is clearly still a leader in this area, Chinese growth rates in R&D have far outpaced any other country. According to Lux Research, China’s R&D spending has increased by 20%, while Europe and the U.S. have seen growth rates of 5% and 6%.

This means that businesses in America are increasingly looking to China for partnerships in order to attract more early-stage financing. A recent story in SolveClimate News quoting Peter Corne of the international law firm Dorsey and Whitney, summed up the situation for a growing number of companies:

“It is not so easy to get funding anymore in the U.S.,” he said. “There is a lot more funding available in China at the moment.”

He added that collaborating with Chinese companies is ideal for early- to mid-stage cleantech firms whose technology does not already have competition in the overseas market.

“The key is to get production to a level [at which] the pricing point is commercially viable,” he said.

On Friday, the House passed an Energy and Water Appropriations bill that would cut the Department of Energy’s budget by $2.5 billion and under-fund the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy – an agency designed to help scale innovative energy technologies – by about $1 billion.

This article was originally published by Climate Progress and was reprinted with permission.

Untitled Document

Get All the Renewable Energy World News Delivered to Your Inbox

Subscribe to Renewable Energy World or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest news and information.

 Subscribe Now


solar power

Duke Energy Renewables More Than Doubles Its North Carolina Solar Power Portfolio

PennWell Editors Duke Energy Renewables on Sept. 9 said it has completed four solar power projects in Eastern North Carolina, adding 3...

India’s Cochin International Airport Goes 100 Percent Solar

Vince Font Adding a massive feather to its renewable energy cap, India now lays claim to the world’s first fully solar-powered a...

Brooklyn to Avoid Blackouts With Utility-Disrupting Microgrids

Christopher Martin, Alex Nussbaum, Bloomberg If you want to see how U.S. utilities could lose control of the electricity industry, keep an eye on Brooklyn’s Red H...
Renewable Energy

The Future of the Internet of Things in Renewable Energy

Michael Hummel The energy business can no longer be differentiated by simply applying more improvements via mechanical engineering a...


Array Technologies Finalizes Shipments to E.ON’s Maricopa West Solar Project

Array Technologies, Inc. (ATI) has completed DuraTrack® HZ shipments to the 20 MW (ac) ...

B.C. Energy Minister to provide keynote at renewables for mines summit.

BC Minister of Energy and Mines to address the challenges of providing alternative powe...

Mining leaders seek renewables solutions at Toronto Summit

The global mining sector is facing a tough business environment with low commodity pric...

American Renewable Energy Institute Gears Up for 12th Annual Summit

"Racing Climate Change: Green Bridge with China, The Road to Paris” is the theme of th...


New Mexico Attracts Jobs and Revenues with Renewable Energy Tax Credit

New Mexico has abundant fossil fuel resources: in 2013, it ranked sixth in the nation for crude oil production, seven...

The Vice President Stole My Show (Not Really)

When I finished my Solar Power International (SPI) panel discussing what future opportunities the panelists saw in so...

The Value Of The Building

If you’re selling efficiency solutions in the built environment, you may find yourself being asked by your pros...

Sewage provides energy through processing

Many nations are investing in new technology to turn sewage waste into usable energy. Japan has recently revised its ...


I am a reporter with, a blog published by the Center for American Progress. I am former editor and producer for, where I contributed stories and hosted the Inside Renewable Energy Podcast. Keep in to...


Volume 18, Issue 4


To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:


Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon



Successfully Integrating Solar: A Proactive Approach

•      What does the increasing solar penetrati...

Doing Business in Europe – in partnership with GWEC, the Global Win...

There is now 128.8 GW of installed wind energy capacity in the EU (appro...

Doing Business in South Africa – in partnership with GWEC, the Glob...

Wind Energy in South Africa has been expanding dramatically, growing fro...


Community Shared Solar - We're all in this together

New York, Massachusetts, Colorado, Minnesota and California are leading ...

6 Tips For Successful Presentation

As sales professionals, we’re called upon to give presentations fr...

It's Story Time!

Telling a great – and relevant – story can be a powerful sal...


Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now