Cleantech Deals in China Exponential Growth in Key Sectors

China is experiencing exponential growth in cleantech investment, with the background of 2060 carbon neutral commitment.

7 May 2021

Since the beginning of 2020, there has been USD 25 billion in Chinese cleantech venture deals, USD 10 billion of which happened just in Q1 this year. China is experiencing exponential growth in cleantech investment, with the background of 2060 carbon neutral commitment.

Two out of three Chinese cleantech deals in Q1 2021 are in the transportation and logistics sector, particularly electrical cars and related facilities. This sector has also seen very active exporting to the South East market. But there are interesting developments in other sectors as well, such as hydrogen, renewable energy storage, and agriculture. In this Viewpoint interview, Anthony DeOrsey, Consulting Manager at Cleantech Group, shared his observations and analysis of the dynamics in each of these sectors in the China cleantech landscape.

Anthony DeOrsey - ATC

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Cleantech Group and its coverage of China cleantech market

  • Cleantech Group look at cleantech through five lenses: Energy & Power, Transport & Logistics, Resources & Environment, Materials & Chemicals and Agriculture & Food;
  • We track new emerging technologies, venture investment deals, and transactions between innovators, corporates around the world, and increasingly in China;
  • We also look frequently at the ways that new emerging technologies coming out of China in cleantech may potentially fit into global trends;
  • We have seen an unprecedented year in cleantech in China between the beginning of 2020 until today, there has been about USD 25 billion in venture deals with cleantech start-ups in china, and about USD 10 billion of that was just in this year.
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Transport & Logistics:
attracting big investment and eyeing exporting to Southeast Asia

  • The majority of the actions we have seen in China in the past quarter has been on transport and logistics. Luxury passenger vehicles companies like XPeng Motors (小鹏), Leapmotor (零跑), Weltmeister (威马), are raising north of a billion dollars.
  • We are starting to see if the electrification of the transport mobility market expands beyond that luxury class into other areas of the value chain that might have a wider service area;
  • There is going to be a large increase in export markets opening up to Chinese companies. Southeast Asia, notably Indonesia and Vietnam, have major goals for electric vehicles and bikes getting on the roads in the next few years. BYD (比亚迪) is already competing with Tesla in Indonesia for some of the bus contracts.
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Hydrogen starts to take off

  • China has a very ambitious target to, by 2030, put over 1 million fuel cell electric vehicles on the road, accompanied by over a thousand hydrogen refueling stations, and increase the percentage of green hydrogen to over 50%;
  • A lot of synergies is happening inside of industrial clusters with large industrial operations in close proximity where producers and off-takers of hydrogen can work together;
  • Multinationals are getting involved: Siemens has committed to providing hydrogen refueling stations for Beijing 2022 winter Olympic, which targets to have 1000 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles servicing the games; a company called Refire in Shanghai has formed a partnership with Toyota.

Renewable Energy:
need for energy storage to provide flexibility

  • China has set a target to reduce carbon intensity by 18% from the 2020 levels, to reduce energy intensity by 13.5% from the same 2020 levels, and to get the renewables to mix up to 20% of the country’s overall energy mix by 2025;
  • To get there, there needs to be a massive expansion of baseload power coming from wind or solar; but additionally, there needs to be some more flexibility energy supply, which opens up the opportunity for players in energy storage;
  • Opportunities could be: at-home residential commercial energy storage; virtual power plant; interchange between vehicles and grids, etc.
  • We have already seen a lot of experimentation with virtual power plants in Hebei province, Swiss machinery giant ABB, is putting together a pilot virtual power plant in Hebei province to supply flexibility power to about 2.4 million people;
  • There is a need to have clean and highly efficient technologies for battery recycling to handle those end-of-life batteries.

Agriculture & Food themes:
grocery disintermediation, alternative protein,
and methane emissions reduction

  • Shihuituan (十荟团), a platform for disintermediation in grocery distribution, just raised USD 750 million from a group of investors, like Alibaba, D.E.Shaw, and GGV Capital;
  • China’s proficiency in digitalization, so everything from IoT to software, AI, drones, has very high potential to continue shaving off some layers of cost for farmers and for agriculture in China.
  • Alternative protein is starting to resonate with consumers in China, with more uptake from the market. China is becoming a production hub for alternative protein as well;
  • There is a very high potential for reduction in methane emissions in China, with the government starts to put emission caps and regulations in place.

Watch Anthony DeOrsey Full Interview Video