Abstract China became a major player in renewable energy (RE) technology during the 2000s. Chinese solar PV cell and module makers quickly dominated global sales in that industry, while the country's wind turbine producers became poised for significant exports after capturing their rapidly growing home market. In countries like the US, Chinese RE technology strength has been met with claims of excessive governmental support of exports. This study examines to what extent Chinese firms' solar PV and wind technology successes have been enabled by policy supports, and whether those policies appear to have been driven by broader goals versus RE export promotion per se. The evidence suggests that governmental policy toward both wind and solar originated in a push for export-competitive Chinese companies. But the specifics differed substantially due to the particular requirements of building technological capabilities in each: export readiness necessitated substantial support for domestic installation of wind but not solar PV power. The findings also suggest that as the decade of the 2000s progressed, environmental goals played an increasing role alongside export promotion in motivating and shaping Chinese RE technology policies.