China may still be one of the top polluting countries on the planet, but they’re trying to improve. The country’s National Energy Administration (NEA) announced an ambitious plan this week to invest $361 billion into renewable energy projects between now and 2020. This marks a substantial commitment to the shift away from coal, which has been a primary source of electricity (and pollution) in China for decades. The NEA said the energy plan calls for investments in wind, hydro, solar and nuclear power to produce around half of new electricity generation by 2020.
China’s renewable energy projects are not only an investment in the future of the Earth, but also in the nation’s economy. The NEA estimates the investments will create over 13 million jobs in the energy sector over the upcoming five-year period, which is likely to far surpass the number of jobs eliminated as the country shifts away from its heavy reliance on coal. While China had previously committed to tripling its solar power capacity by 2020, it now looks as though the country is positioned to boost current production by five times.
The investments outlined in the NEA’s plan are on top of the $145 billion pledged by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country’s economic planner, last month. That figure is enough to build 1,000 major solar power plants, according to estimates from industry experts, but the NDRC plans to diversify its renewable energy investments. In its own five-year energy plan, the agency suggested $101 billion for new wind farms, $73 billion for new hydropower projects, and the remaining amount to be invested in tidal power and geothermal.
These combined efforts solidify China’s role as the leading solar power producer on the planet, which it stepped into last year.