China and Germany - Working for an Energy Efficient Future


Germany and China are pioneers of the global Energiewende, i.e. the energy transition towards a green and sustainable economy. Both countries have made the principle “Efficiency First!” a leitmotif for the implementation of their energy transitions. The example of Germany shows that decoupling economic growth and energy consumption is possible. Between 1990 and 2015, Germany’s primary energy demand fell by 11% while her GDP grew by 43%[1]. Similarly, China has greatly advanced its endeavor to decrease energy intensity. Between 1990 and 2015, China’s energy intensity decreased from 21 to 6.7 MJ/USDGDP, 2011, PPP[2]. Within the Sino-German Energy Partnership, both countries share and exchange on solutions and best practices to further spur energy conservation and energy efficiency efforts in both countries.

Germany – a sound mix of instruments for accelerating energy efficiency improvements

Embedded in the European Union’s framework and energy efficiency targets, Germany has enacted a number of different policy instruments for increasing energy efficiency in industry and buildings, such as financial assistance, quantitative measures, regulatory laws, price measures, and programs offering information and advice, e.g., for house owners interested in improving their building’s energy efficiency. Just recently, in December 2019, the Federal Government published the Energy Efficiency Strategy 2050 and the National Action Plan Energy Efficiency (NAPE). The NAPE shows how a mix of instruments and measures will help Germany to achieve a 30% reduction of primary energy consumption (PEC) by 2030 (in comparison to 2008) and support the roadmap towards a 50% PEC cut by 2050. German high-tech and energy efficient machinery and technologies – from high-tech air compressors to optimized combustion plants – are key for achieving the government’s targets. Key instruments and measures included in Germany’s National Action Plan Energy Efficiency:

  • Efficiency in Buildings. Currently, Germany’s building sector emits approx. 125 MtCO2,eq per year. Until 2030, these emissions will have to be cut significantly to 70 MtCO2,eq. The Federal Government has introduced a variety of measures to achieve these targets. Measures include, amongst others, tax incentives, investment grants and low-interest loans for the renovation of existing buildings, mandatory energy efficiency targets as defined in the building code, and incentives for the utilization of renewable heating technologies.
  • Efficiency in Industry, Services, and Trade. In 2016, Germany’s industry, trade and services sectors consumed 1,128 TWh of final energy. The goal until 2030: an additional reduction of 100-150 TWh. Key instruments for supporting this development are, amongst others, emission trading (ETS), the introduction of a CO2 price for non-ETS sectors, incentives for waste-heat utilization, utilization of renewable sources for process heating, promoting energy efficiency machinery and technology, and developing the energy services market.
  • Cross-cutting measures include the introduction of CO2 prices in non-ETS sectors (from 2021 onwards), smart metering and digital solutions for monitoring and optimizing energy demand in industry and buildings, ambitious energy label standards for products, and strengthening international cooperation on energy efficiency.
  • Energy efficiency networks (EEN) comprise up to a dozen companies with the goal of identifying energy conservation potentials, setting efficiency goals, and regularly exchanging on best practices and lessons learnt. In Germany, EEN have been very successful in enhancing energy efficiency in small and large companies alike. Within the Energy Partnership, German and Chinese experts and practitioners join forces to evaluate and determine guidelines for setting up EEN in the Chinese context.

China – reducing energy-intensity and improving energy efficiency

Five Year Plans (FYP) provide the basis for China’s energy efficiency policies. Within the 13th FYP (2016-2020), China aims at reducing its energy intensity in comparison to 2015 by 15% and increasing its share of non-fossil energy in PEC to 15%. Most notably, China’s authorities have limited the country’s PEC to a maximum of 5 btce for 2020 (2017: 4.5 btce). Energy efficiency gains play an important role for achieving these targets. Especially the industry sector, responsible for approx. 72% of China’s PEC, plays an important role. Further, energy efficiency in buildings and fostering the energy services market are key focal areas of the Chinese regulators. Key policies:

  • Efficiency in Industry. 2007’s Energy Saving Act is the basis for China’s energy conservation policies in the industry sector. The act requires companies and government to save energy and defines a monitoring system for checking fulfilment. Further, China’s government offers subsidies for improving energy efficiency, mainly for fostering the utilization of energy efficient technologies in the energy-intensive industry. Most importantly, the “100, 1,000, 10,000 companies program” and “energy-intensive enterprises with voluntary commitments for energy saving” has proven successful in supporting more than 16.000 companies – equivalent to 60% of China’s PEC – to implement energy saving measures. Furthermore, the piloting of emission trading for different energy-intensive industries across the country is indirectly supporting energy conservation efforts.
  • Efficiency in Buildings. For reducing building energy consumption in new buildings, China has gradually tightened regulative laws and standards, such as the building code. For existing buildings, focus is put on building renovation and expanding consumption-based heat billing in Northern China.
  • Energy Services Market. China is home to a very active energy efficiency services market. Between 2012 and 2018, the revenue of energy service companies (ESCOs) grew from 165 billion CNY to 465 billion CNY. Today, more than 6000 companies with 730,000 employees are active in this field. ESCOs benefit from tax advantages imposed by the central government.

Graphic - Decoupling energy consumption from economic growth in Germany

Graphic - Energy efficiency goals in Germany

Graphic - Development of China's ESCO industry 2012-2018

Germany and China exchange on energy efficiency policies and implement joint demonstration projects

Germany and China cooperate and exchange on pressing challenges, solutions and best practices for fostering energy conservation and increasing energy efficiency in industry and buildings. Topics and projects covered within the Sino-German Energy Partnership include:

Sino-German Demonstration Project on Energy Efficiency in the Industry.
The demonstration project, started in December 2017 by selecting six Chinese pilot companies from different energy-intensive branches, aims at conducting international-standard energy audits in pilot companies, derive promising energy-efficiency measures, provide capacity building for life-cycle cost analyses (LCCA) and implement identified measures in close cooperation between German and Chinese companies. Involved industry branches are cement, power, airport, glass fiber, ceramics, and pulp & paper. The demonstration project is jointly implemented by GIZ, German Energy Agency dena, and the National Energy Conservation Center (NECC) on behalf of BMWi and NDRC. In the first phase (2017-2019), the project partners implemented the energy audits, LCCA-trainings and started with the implementation of identified measures. The second phase, due to start in 2020, will focus on disseminating the project results and further supporting the implementation of energy efficiency measures.

Regular technology forums and other activities for providing a B2G-platform for German and Chinese companies in the energy efficiency sector.

Policy advice and exchange on policy instruments for fostering energy conservation and increasing efficiency in both industry and buildings.

Exchange and capacity building for company and business experts on life-cycle cost analysis. Exchange on energy efficiency networks.



Germany’s Energy Efficiency Strategy 2050 (English)

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German Energy Efficiency Policy Study (Chinese)

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BMWi National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency (Chinese)

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Energy Efficiency in Buildings_CN

BMWi Energy Efficiency Strategy for Buildings (Chinese)

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BMWi Greenbook Energy Efficiency_CN

BMWi Green Paper on Energy Efficiency (Chinese)

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PPT-Research on German Energy Efficiency Policy

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Further Reads

【Demonstration Project】Towards Climate Neutral and Energy Efficient Cities in China

Cooperation on Energy Efficiency deepened under the impression of carbon neutrality goal

6th Meeting of the Sino-German Working Group on Energy Efficiency

【Policy Exchange】Virtual meeting: BMWi and NDRC exchange on energy efficiency policies

On July 9th, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) held a working-level virtual meeting in the framework of the Sino-German Energy Partnership. The bilateral exchange focused on the latest energy efficiency strategies and policies in both countries as well as the outlook for Sino-German cooperation in the field of energy efficiency. The meeting was headed by Ms. Christine Falken-Großer, Division Director for Bilateral Energy Cooperation (IIA2) at BMWi, and Mr. Xiong Zhe, Divison Director for Energy Conservation and Efficiency at NDRC.

【Demonstration Project】1st Phase of the Sino-German Demonstration Project on Energy Efficiency in Industry Successfully Completed

Award Ceremony of the Sino-German Energy Efficiency Cooperation Projects Award

【Demonstration Project】Capacity Building on Life Cycle Cost Analysis

【B2G, Technology Forum】Sino-German Energy Efficiency Technology Matchmaking and Green Finance Workshop

【Political Dialogue】5th Meeting of the Sino-German Working Group on Energy Efficiency

【Demonstration Project】Last Energy Diagnosis in six Pilots - World’s No. 2 Airport

【Expert Exchange】Four Sino-German Expert Salons on Energy Efficiency and Heating

5th Sino-German Energy Conservation & Low Carbon Technology Exchange and Cooperation Forum 2018

【Demonstration Project】Kick-off of Sino-German Demonstration Project on Energy Efficiency in Industry

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Yin Yuxia

Project Director

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

Tayuan Diplomatic Office Building 2-5
14 Liangmahe South Rd.
Chaoyang District
100600 Beijing
PR China

☎ +86 10 8527 5589 ext. 306


Yin Yuxia

Further Focal Topics

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Private Sector Cooperation

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