This article examines developments in the renewable electricity sector in Brazil and China since 2000. The two countries share many interests with respect to solar and wind power, but institutional differences in state–business relations led to different outcomes. In China, in a context of corporatist state–business relations, state interventions were more far-reaching, with the state coordinating with state-owned banks, offering large financial and investment incentives to state-owned or state-connected enterprises. By contrast, in Brazil’s public–private partnerships, state support to promote renewable energies was shaped by a stronger preference for competitive auctions and stricter financing rules. The differences in state–business relations help explain the observed developmental trajectories in wind and solar power.