China’s Involvement in South Africa’s Wind and Solar PV Industries

Image: Flickr, UNIDO
Image: Flickr, UNIDO

China is now a global leader in renewable energy production, an important player in development finance and climate change diplomacy, and the world’s largest provider of energy finance.

Meanwhile, in recent years, South Africa has emerged as a regional leader in renewable energy development following the launch of its renewable energy independent power producers’ procurement program (RE IPPPP). In this paper we explore the different modes of involvement of Chinese companies in South Africa’s solar PV and wind energy sectors, and how the differentiated technological and industrial trajectories of Chinese companies are interacting with South Africa’s unique national context. In doing so we reveal complex interactions between evolving market dynamics, and international and domestic factors in both China and South Africa. Such dynamics, which may at once be political, technical, economic and social, include the highly globalized nature of production chains in wind and solar PV, accompanied by increasingly consolidated markets, and on—going trade disputes between Chinese, and EU and US solar PV manufacturing companies.

1 Dec 2017