Experts exchange solutions for decarbonizing heating sector at Sino-German Clean Heating Forum

On 5 August 2022, GIZ and the association Clean Heating Industry Committee (CHIC) jointly organized the “Sino-German Clean Heating Forum” under the BMWK supported Sino-German Energy Partnership. The event featured presentations by experts on the clean heating transition, with an emphasis on representatives from German companies who discussed technical solutions, current challenges, and opportunities for clean heating. The heating sector is a crucial action field for the energy transition and climate action both in Germany and in China.

For both Germany and China, the decarbonization of the heating sector is necessary to achieve their ambitious climate targets. In Germany, heating makes up about a quarter of energy demand and in China, 30% of building energy consumption is from heating. In both countries, decarbonizing the heating sector is challenging relative to the power sector. In Germany and China, fossil fuels still account for much of the heating supply and while technical solutions are available, economic and regulatory factors slow down the change.

The “Sino-German Clean Heating Forum” provided space for companies and experts to present solutions, discuss their benefits and the existing challenges and barriers to their application. Speakers also made proposals on reforms and measures to promote the application of the necessary technical solutions.

In his opening speech, Mr ZHOU Hongchun, Director of CHIC, stated that the heating transition is utterly important for the achievement of China’s climate targets and emphasized the importance of international cooperation to exchange experiences and find the best solutions. Ms. Elena Finckh, Energy and Climate Officer at the German Embassy in China, pointed out in her opening remarks that Germany will greatly accelerate its heating transition, aiming to increase the renewable energy share in heat supply from about 17% in 2021 to 50% and installing 6 million heat pumps by 2030 (currently 1.5 million). She also reiterated that Germany’s commitment to its climate goals, the energy transition and coal phase-out remains unchanged by the current gas supply crisis which forces Germany to a stronger reliance on coal in the next two years.

A presentation by Ms YIN Yuxia, Project Director of the Sino-German Energy Partnership, gave an overview of Germany’s heating transition. The pillars of this transition are energy efficiency in buildings, deployment of heat pumps as heating solutions for buildings not connected to heating grids, as well as expansion and decarbonization of district heating. Important avenues for district heating decarbonization are large scale heat pumps, waste heat, solar and geothermal energy. The heating transition requires a policy mix of efficiency standards, carbon pricing, financial support, and improved urban planning. Availability of qualified personnel and material are further important factors for implementing the transition.

Invited by the Energy Partnership, five companies presented technical concepts and products as solutions for specific components of the heating system:

  • Heat pumps in combination with storage, solar power, storage and climate friendly refrigerants as virtually zero-carbon solution (Viessmann).
  • Utilisation of heat from wastewater as a cheap and available source of heating and cooling energy, which requires more attention in the urban planning and building design process (NECreat).
  • Large scale heat pumps in combination with a renewable energy source, heat and ice storage as a solution for large heating and cooling energy consumers (MAN Energy Solutions).
  • Smart meters and intelligent monitoring systems to provide comprehensive data on consumption patterns and to optimize system steering (Danfoss).
  • Modern hydronic balancing systems which improve efficiency and consistency of quality of heat and hot water supply in a building (Oventrop).

At the panel discussion about introducing consumption-based heat billing in China, it became clear that this is a topic of highest importance for the heating transition in China. Current area-based billing does not incentivize energy saving and introduction of modern equipment. Consumption based heat billing will change the incentives. It is not only highly relevant for efficiency but also for improving the quality of heat supply as modern metering equipment allows monitoring whether heat supply is even and consistent among units in a building. Consumption-based heat metering and the related equipment also delivers essential and fundamental data for digitalized and smart heating systems of the future. As one expert pointed out, now is a good time for China to initiate a reform towards consumption-based heat metering – China has set ambitious climate targets, the necessary technologies are mature and available, and by now many demonstration projects with good results exist.

The event showed that there are promising dynamics and cooperation potentials for the heating transition in China and Germany. The required technologies are available but require changes to regulation and more support. In the following weeks, GIZ will work jointly with CHIC and further partners on concrete policy recommendations about how China can further promote its heating transition.

Sino-German cooperation on sustainable heating

To achieve a holistic energy transition and the decarbonization of all sectors, increasing the share of renewable and low-carbon energy in the heating sector is essential. Today, the Chinese and German heating sectors still largely depend on the fossil fuels coal, oil and gas. This, however, must change quickly for both countries to achieve their respective climate goals. The technical solutions by which China and Germany can bring about the transition are available – heat pumps, solar thermal and geothermal energy, waste heat, storage, expanding low-carbon district heating, and higher efficiency of buildings and equipment. Many Chinese, German, and international companies offer innovative, effective and efficient products. However, in both countries, the fast scale up of these technologies runs into challenges when it comes to economic incentives, regulations, and availability of finance. Germany has a continuously developing mix of policy instruments to promote the heating transition. China considers a wide range of technologies and polices, and conducts numerous pilot and demonstration projects. Both Germany and China share their solutions and experiences to learn from each other’s experiences. GIZ supports these efforts and the Sino-German Energy Partnership offers a platform for policy makers, researchers, associations, and companies to exchange and engage in cooperation activities.

For more information on the topic, please contact Mr. Philipp Geres (philipp.geres(at)