Energy strategies for three pilot cities in China

Xintai; Photo: city of Xintai

Xintai; Photo: city of Xintai

Strategies for the transition to clean energy in three Chinese cities were presented in Beijing in July 2017 and handed over to the cities involved. These strategies were developed as part of the Sino-German Climate Partnership. They build on experience gleaned in the last few years in German cities in the context of developing and implementing energy strategies and climate change mitigation concepts.

For the past two years, the Sino-German Climate Partnership and Cooperation on Renewable Energies project has been supporting Chinese cities in driving climate change mitigation forward at the local level. The project is financed by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Environment Ministry (BMUB) and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. Following the launch in spring 2015, three project cities – the Sino-German New Energy Demonstration Cities – were selected from around 80 applicants. These three cities each face very different challenges in their transition to clean energy at local level.

Dunhuang; Photo: city of Dunhuang

In 2015, the city of Dunhuang in Gansu Province, south of the Gobi Desert, was still using fossil fuels to meet the majority of its energy requirements for the heating and transport sectors. Today it favours renewable energy sources. Dunhuang is a particularly good location for photovoltaic and solar thermal installations due to its high annual levels of sunshine.

Project partners from BMUB, GIZ, CNREC and Fraunhofer with representatives of the city in front of a new 200 MW substation to be connected to a solar farm in Xintai. Photo: city of Xintai

The city of Xintai in Shandong Province is two hours away from Beijing by express train and lies south of the capital. Xintai’s economy still relies heavily on mining and coal, but this is changing rapidly. The exponential growth of photovoltaic systems in Xintai is perhaps the most visible sign of the city’s changing self-image.

Xiuzhou; Photo: Xiuzhou district in the city of Jiaxing

Xiuzhou district in the city of Jiaxing, which is situated in the eastern province of Zhejiang, is the third pilot city. Xiuzhou also faces the challenges of structural change, but only has limited potential for developing large-scale renewable energy generation systems such as wind power or photovoltaic plants as it has a high density of buildings.

To provide the three pilot cities with specific advice on implementing the transition to clean energy at local level, a consortium from the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft worked with the selected pilot cities as well as GIZ and the China National Renewable Energy Research Centre (CNREC) to develop an integrated energy strategy for each of the three cities following the German model. Based on an analysis of each city’s economic structure, energy requirements, energy supply, infrastructure and climatic conditions, the experts first determined the status quo in the three cities with a view to setting individual long-term objectives and providing local decision-makers with specific proposals for measures as a guideline for implementation. This integrated energy planning is a new approach for the cities, as it not only examines and optimises an individual supplier sector or consumption sector, but instead provides an overall picture of a city’s energy system – including the transport, heating, industrial and household sectors and how they interconnect.

More than 200 representatives from national and local governments, research bodies, think tanks, universities and businesses, as well as high-profile representatives from the pilot cities, took part in the workshop held on 26 July 2017 to present and hand over the energy strategies. The cities emphasised their strong commitment and political support for implementation of the measures recommended in the energy strategies.

A lively discussion about Dunhuang’s energy strategy between the audience and Dr Bofinger, an expert from Fraunhofer IWES. Photo: GIZ China

With the aid of the integrated energy strategies and the defined measures and long-term objectives they set out up to 2030, the three pilot cities have an opportunity to control and push forward with the transition to clean energy. Dunhuang’s energy strategy makes it clear that the high potential for photovoltaic and solar thermal systems could enable a 100 % supply of renewable energy for the city in the medium term. In Xiuzhou, the use of roof-mounted and PV systems and PV systems installed in buildings is recommended on account of the limited space available. Xintai’s energy strategy specifies how links between the energy, heating, and transport sectors can best contribute to the upcoming structural transformation.

The day after the workshop, project partners were able to see for themselves the current status of transition to clean energy in Xintai. At the invitation of Xintai’s municipal government, representatives from BMUB, GIZ, CNREC and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft travelled to the city and visited various clean energy projects, including a multi-megawatt PV plant and substation.

In the next phase of the Sino-German Climate Partnership, which begins in the autumn, experiences and lessons learned will be shared with other Chinese cities. The successful work at national level will be continued by providing advisory services to policy makers on drafting funding policy that will facilitate a successful transition to clean energy at local level in China.