China surpasses the European Union in research related to wind and solar energy

China has overtaken the European Union in research related to renewable energy technologies such as wind turbines and photovoltaics, according to a study by the EU, creating a challenge for its green technology ambitions.
China led the number of peer-reviewed publications in areas such as solar and wind energy, as well as lithium batteries, heat pumps and carbon capture technology, in 2021. That’s a change from 2010, when the UE led the publications in all these sectors. except wind, the article published last week found.
“China is increasingly becoming a global leader in science and innovation in several critical technologies,” the document says. “The EU’s exposure to China is increasingly technological.”
The document does not represent the opinion of the European Commission, but can contribute to its decision-making.
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has pushed a strategy to “de-risk” China, reducing dependence on several critical technologies, including photovoltaic solar cells.
The EU’s executive arm will unveil a proposal on Wednesday with rules aimed at increasing its power to filter and potentially block foreign investment in sensitive industries.
While Europe’s dependence on Chinese production of products such as photovoltaic solar cells is well known, the document highlights how the gap in research and innovation could make it difficult for the EU to reduce such dependencies.
“Gaps in research and innovation can ultimately lead to import dependencies for future technologies and related products,” she said. “China’s global dominance in critical areas such as solar and electronics results in limited options for trade diversification,” she said.
Around 22% of EU imports came from China in 2022, according to the document, and have increased in recent years, while the equivalent figure for the United States has decreased.
Exposure to Chinese inputs in international supply chains is particularly strong for EU industries such as base metals, chemicals, electronics and electrical equipment, she found.
But the report also highlighted how China has some trade dependencies on the EU, including for “strategic products and critical technologies.” China’s electronics sector depends on inputs from the EU for almost 5% of the total value of its production, the document estimated. This is similar to the degree of dependence that the entire EU industrial sector has on Chinese inputs.