Renewable Energy in China

Current Market and Policy Information
China 2005 Renewable Energy Law
Future Renewable Energy Development Targets
Chinese Organizations, Projects, and Web Sites
Historical Web References/Documents
Historical Conferences and Papers
Beijing International Renewable Energy Conference (BIREC) 2005


"China's latest leap: An update on renewables policy," Eric Martinot and Li Junfeng, Renewable Energy World 13(4): 51-57 (Jul/Aug 2010). An up-to-date summary of current market status and recent policy changes during 2008-2009, including a 2009 update by the Chinese government to the 2005 Renewable Energy Law.

"Renewable power for China: Past, present, and future," Eric Martinot, Frontiers of Energy and Power Engineering in China 4(3): 287-294 (2010). Includes more history and future challenges than above paper. Copyright Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag 2010.

China Wind Power Outlook 2010, by Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association, Greenpeace, and the European Wind Energy Council. The latest and most comprehensive information on wind power in China, including markets, industry, and policy. An update of the previous 2007 edition (see below).

Recommendations for Improving the Effectiveness of Renewable Energy Policies in China, REN21 (Paris: 2009). This has a lot of good market, technology, and policy information for 2009. There is also a companion annex document Background Paper: Chinese Renewables Status Report.

China Renewable Energy Information by Frank Haugwitz. Contains a large collection of documents and links on policy, technologies, international projects and programs, energy security, and CDM. An excellent source of current and historical news reports and articles from a wide range of sources.

The China Clean Energy Database started in early 2011 to make primary source materials available in English (core materials to be added throughout 2011).

Powering China's Development: The Role of Renewable Energy, Eric Martinot and Li Junfeng, Worldwatch Special Report (Washington, DC: 2007). A comprehensive and in-depth description of the current situation and analysis of future prospects for all renewables technologies, including policies, market trends, industry development, and future targets and scenarios. Includes introduction to the general energy and environment situation in China. Available for purchase in PDF or hardcopy. (Executive summary given on linked page.) There is also a free Chinese translation available. An English summary version appears in Renewable Energy World January/February 2008.

Medium and Long-Term Development Plan for Renewable Energy in China (unofficial draft translation). The Chinese government in September 2007 finalized its long-term plan and targets for renewables to 2020. This plan has been under development for the past few years. Most targets are the same as have been previously announced, but the overall share of renewable energy in 2020 was revised slightly downward to 15%, from the previously discussed target of 16%.

Report on the Development of the Photovoltaic Industry in China (2006-2007), Zhao YW, Wang SC, Wang WJ, Li XD, Liu ZM, Qiu DM, Song S, and G. Ramsay. Comprehensive market and industry report by the China/World Bank/GEF Renewable Energy Development Project (REDP).

China Solar PV Report 2007. Comprehensive market report by the China Renewable Energy Industries Association, Greenpeace China, the European PV Industry Association, and WWF.

China Wind Power Report 2007. Comprehensive market report by the China Renewable Energy Industries Association, Greenpeace, and the Global Wind Energy Council.

Proceedings of the China Renewable Energy Development Strategy Workshop, October 2005, Beijing, organized by Tsinghua University's Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology and the Tsinghua-BP Clean Energy Research and Education Center. A collection of papers on current status and future prospects of small hydro, wind, solar PV, solar hot water, biomass power, biofuels, and biogas, plus summary. Text in both English and Chinese.


In February 2005, China passed a groundbreaking law to promote renewable energy. (See "Government to promote renewable energy sources" from China Business Weekly March 17, 2005.) Implementation of the law started January 1, 2006. The law provides a feed-in tariff for some technologies and establishes grid feed-in requirements and standard procedures. It establishes cost-sharing mechanisms so the incremental cost will be shared among utility consumers. It also creates new financing mechanisms and supports rural uses of renewable energy. The law also provides for a long-term development plan, R&D, geographic resource surveys, technology standards, and building codes for integrating solar hot water into new construction.

Full Text of China Renewable Energy Law (in English and Chinese)

Implementing Guidelines (Jan 2006) -- Pricing and Cost-Sharing (non-authorized English translation)

Implementing Guidelines (Jan 2006) -- Management (non-authorized English translation)


current target
proposed target
Hydro power130 GW197 GW300 GW300 GW
Wind power2.6 GW25.8 GW30 GW150 GW
Biomass power2 GW3.2 GW30 GW30 GW
Solar PV0.08 GW0.4 GW1.8 GW20 GW
Solar hot water100 million m2190 million m2300 million m2
Ethanol1 million tons2 million tons10 million tons
Biodiesel0.05 million tons2 million tons
Biomass pellets~ 050 million tons
Biogas and biomass gassification8 billion m3/year44 billion m3/year
Renewable energy share
of final energy consumption (*)

Note (*): the target for share of energy was changed in 2009 from 15% of primary energy consumption to 15% of final energy consumption (see Martinot et al 2007 on the futures page for a discussion of the differences; and also see Martinot and Li 2010). The new 2009 target is for "non-fossil fuels" and so also includes nuclear power, which supplied about 0.3% of final energy consumption in 2009, but will likely increase in share by 2020. Sources: Actual 2006 per Martinot and Li 2007; 2020 current targets per NDRC, Medium and Long-term Development Plan for Renewable Energy in China (September 2007); 2009 actual and 2020 proposed targets per Martinot and Li 2010.

China's total electric power capacity was 620 GW in 2006 and 860 GW in 2009. Capacity is expected to reach 1600 GW by 2020 by one estimate.


China Renewable Energy Industries Association

China New Energy Chamber of Commerce

China World Bank/GEF Renewable Energy Scale-Up Project (CRESP)

China World Bank/GEF Renewable Energy Development Project (REDP)

Energy Foundation China Renewable Energy Programs

China Energy Research Institute, National Development and Reform Commission

EU-China Energy and Environment Program (A number of good links some background info.)

GTZ Renewable Energy Projects in China

Jiangsu Province Renewable Energy Association

Nanjing University Eco-Materials and Renewable Energy Research Center


China page of National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Published nine 2-page "fact sheets" in 2004 that provide good summary information on a range of topics, plus publications and other material.

China E-News page of Battelle Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has information on energy, environment, and economy in China, including the article Energizing China's Wind Power Sector.

China Energy Studies Group of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). Extensive energy statistics and studies of energy efficiency in buildings and industry, including the China Energy Databook and policy studies.

Center for Resource Solutions. Policy studies on renewable energy, including international comparisons, many targeted to China's ongoing policy development.

Energy Foundation Beijing. Policy studies and ongoing programs to support renewable energy in China.

From quantity to quality: how China's solar thermal industry will need to face up to market challenges, Li Hua, Renewable Energy World January-February 2005.

China "Brightness" and "Township Electrification" programs, Ma Shenghong, presentation at Renewables 2004 conference, Bonn, Germany, June 2004.

China Renewable Energy Overview (China World Bank/GEF Renewable Energy Development Project, Beijing, 2005).

Renewable Energy Development in China: The Potential and the Challenges, Zhang Zhengmin, Wang Qingyi, Zhuang Xing, Jan Hamrin, Seth Baruch (Center for Resource Solutions, san Francisco, and Energy Foundation, Beijing, undated, circa 2000).

Energy in China: Transportation, Electric Power, and Fuel Markets, Report APEC#204-RE-01.2 (Asia Pacific Energy Research Center, Tokyo, 2004). [send to email for a copy]

"World Bank energy projects in China: Influences on environmental protection," Eric Martinot, Energy Policy 29(8): 581-594 (2001). Provides a general framework of 15 strategies for reducing environmental impacts of energy in China (looking at energy/environment linkages), and then evaluates World Bank energy projects from 1982-2000 within this framework, analyzing the extent to which projects have contributed to environmental technology and policy. Copyright 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd.

Wind Power Industry Development in China (China World Bank/GEF CRESP project, Beijing, 2005).

Chinese PV Industry Development Report (GEF/World Bank China Renewable Energy Development Project, Beijing, 2004).

Overview of renewable energy in China 2005, Li Junfeng and Shi Lishan, eds. (China Renewable Energy Industries Association, Beijing, 2005).

Research report on development of China¡¯s solar hot water industry, Luo Zhentao and Shi Lishan (China UNDP/GEF Renewable Energy Capacity Building Project, Beijing, 2004, in Chinese).

PV industry report (China World Bank/GEF REDP Project, Beijing, 2004).

Small Hydro Power: China's Practice, Tong Jiandong (China WaterPower Press, Beijing, 2004).

Renewable energy for rural sustainability: lessons from China, Aiming Zhou and John Byrne. Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society 22(2):123-131 (2002). Rural energy needs, resources, options, economics, and policies.

The econoimcs of sustainable energy for rural development: a study of renewable energy in rural China, John Byrne, Bo Shen, and William Wallace. Energy Policy 26(1): 45-54 (1998).


Great Wall World Renewable Energy Forum , October 24-26, 2006, Beijing (GWREF). This forum produced an extensive collection of papers on technologies, policy, and finance. A CD-ROM of papers has been produced by the conference organizers. Some selected presentations and papers on the current market and policy situation in China:

There was also an introduction at GWREF by the Future House USA project, which is building ten renewable energy demonstration houses at the Beijing 2008 Olympic site, sponsored by the Chinese Ministry of Construction, and in partnership with the Future House Real Estate Corp. (China).

World Biofuels Symposium China 2006, September 13-15, Beijing. The conference presentations are only available via password, but one good presentation outlining the Chinese situtation is posted here without password: Yuan ZH, "Biofuels Industry in China: Current Situation and Future."


The Beijing International Renewable Energy Conference (BIREC 2005) took place November 7-8, 2005. The conference brought together policy makers, NGOs, companies, and many others to discuss the current status of renewable energy worldwide, prospects for international cooperation (especially so-called "South-South" cooperation), and efforts to monitor progress with existing international commitments and programs.

Chinese and international news media covered the conference. Two of the major Chinese-language papers had front-page articles. The English-language China Daily ran the story Renewable energy gets huge outlay on November 8, and then published the full Beijing Declaration and the conference-opening Letter from Chinese President on Novmeber 10. AFP ran the story China to spend 180 billion dollars to boost renewable energy use on November 7. Reuters published the article Global energy meet agrees roadmap on renewables on November 8, following an article on the Renewables 2005 Global Status Report released just prior to the conference Renewable energy investment at record high: report.

During the conference, China announced a target of 15% of total primary energy from renewables by 2020. This target includes large hydropower, and thus represents an increase from today's existing 7%. (See section on China renewable energy targets below.)

The conference produced the Beijing Declaration. This 3-page document talks about the benefits of renewable energy, including the diversification of risk given fossil-fuel price uncertainties. It emphasizes increased research and development, financing, technology transfer, technical assistance, and international cooperation to enhance policies, markets, technology development, access to finance, entrepreneurship, and integration of renewables with energy efficiency and other clean fuels options. And it refers to further actions to promote renewables and assess global progress, including upcoming meetings of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development.

The BIREC conference followed the Bonn Renewables 2004 Conference , which was the largest renewable energy conference ever held. Attended by over 3000 participants from 150 countries and hundreds of non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations, the conference led to formal commitments by countries and organizations to renewable energy targets, programs, and initiatives. These are encapsulated in the major outcome of the conference, the Action Programme. The Action Programme contains about 200 individual commitments/activities declared by participants. The meeting also produced a short Political Declaration and a Recommeneded Policies document. For a day-by-day report of the meeting and a final summary, see the International Institute for Sustainable Development's Renewables 2004 Bulletin.

Page updated May 27, 2011