The report indicates that China leveraged on decreased manufacturing costs, increased investment and the decline in renewable costs to boost the trade.

The worldwide solar photovoltaic (PV) installation capacity in 2013 was about a quarter larger than in 2012.

China and several other developing countries saw a better growth in solar PV installations and there was a further decline in growth in Europe.

The report said developing countries collectively accounted for well above one-third of new solar PV capacity additions in 2013.

The Green Economy report, South-South Trade in Renewable Energy: A Trade Flow Analysis of Selected Environmental Goods, identifies key growth markets for the trade in environmental goods and services (EGS) and focuses on the renewable energy (RE) sector and maps the flow of trade of RE goods among developing countries.

China exported $869m worth of PV cells and modules to African countries between 2009 and 2013 with most of exports going to South Africa.

Developing countries collectively added 20.7GW of new wind installations in 2013 and accounted for 58% of new capacity recorded in the year.

UN under-secretary general and UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said a significant contributor to South-South EGS trade, renewable energy technologies now represents one of the fastest-growing markets in the world.

"They are critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing rural and off-grid energy access and improving energy security, as well as creating jobs and livelihood opportunities," Steiner added.

The worldwide low-carbon and energy-efficient technologies market is expected to nearly triple between 2010 and 2020.

The renewable energy job generation is particularly high as estimates indicate that 20 million people could be employed in the sector, either directly or indirectly, by 2030.

Image: China exported $869m worth of PV cells and modules to African countries between 2009 and 2013. Photo: Courtesy of United Nations Environment Programme.