China Confronts the Pain of Kicking its Coal Addiction

Energy building

Adam Dean/For The Washington Post

Alliance President, Barbara Finamore, was quoted in a recent article in the Washington Post:

“China is beginning to bend down the curve of CO2 emissions through a very ambitious series of actions, plans, targets and programs,” said Barbara Finamore of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We are starting to see the results through the reduction in coal use.”

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China Seeks Energy Efficiency In Construction


View from Jinmao Tower. Credit: Shutterstock

ChinaDaily reports that China ranks second in energy efficiency investment for buildings with $18 billion, according to the latest market report from the International Energy Association.

The annual report was released at the Center for Strategic International Studies in Washington on Wednesday.

“The US has the largest amount of investment followed by China and Germany, based on the information that we are able to get,” said Philippe Benoit, head of the Energy Efficiency and Environment Division at the IEA in Paris.

“Every year we look at a particular sector to analyze energy-efficiency investment,” Benoit said. “Last year, we looked at transport, and this year we looked at buildings. We estimated that investment in energy efficiency in buildings is $90 billion, which includes the installation of the inspection system and the lighting in buildings.

“Energy-efficiency investment in China has continued to grow in step with the pace of investment growth in the building-construction market,” the report said. “In 2014, more than $18 billion was invested in building energy efficiency in China, with more than $11 billion of that invested in residential buildings.”

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The Alliance is featured on CCTV America!

This week, CCTV America showcased the Alliance on their Global Business segment. Mark Niu from CCTV reports on China’s recent pledge to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 60 percent and to generate a fifth of its electricity from clean sources by 2030. These targets are ambitious and are expected to provide some big business opportunities for U.S. companies.

Two of the Alliance Partners are highlighted for their energy efficiency technology: Nexant, Inc. and Opower. This segment coincides with President Xi Jinping’s visit to the U.S. this week. See more below.

Electricity use trends point to major gains in China’s energy efficiency

Energy buildingTracking a country’s electricity use can offer insight into industrial output, energy efficiency and the effectiveness of energy policies. For decades, China has been pursuing energy efficiency and demand side management policies to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign energy imports and increase its economic competitiveness; but many of these efforts are only now becoming apparent due to large-scale structural changes to the Chinese economy.

“For years, China had implemented successful policies to improve the efficiency of heavy industrial facilities, such as cement, steel, and aluminum plants, but rapid expansion of this heavy industrial capacity throughout the country was overshadowing gains in efficiency, meaning continued growth in overall energy consumption in these sectors,” said Max Dupuy, Senior Associate at the Regulatory Assistant Project, an organization that provides technical assistance and international expertise on energy efficiency and environmental policy.

Now, a slowdown in absolute economic growth is revealing impressive aggregate gains, as demonstrated by China’s electricity consumption figures for the first quarter of 2015: Overall electricity consumption grew only 0.8% year on year to 1.29 trillion kilowatt hours according to the National Bureau of Statistics. This represents a 4.6% drop from the same period the previous year.

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Energy-efficiency has staying power as China business trend

chinese cityBuildings, buildings and more buildings have been the most prevalent image of China’s development. Over 50 billion (bn) sqm (square meters) of building space have been erected in the country; and on average another 2bn sqm gets built each year.

Both residential and commercial buildings account for more than 40 percent of total energy usage in China, according to

Hence, a new trend is emerging for developers to construct eco-friendly and energy-efficient skyscrapers and condominiums. Such efforts can cut costs on utility bills, while reducing pollution nationwide.

As of April 2015, 320 million sqm of green building space in China is certified by the domestic Green Building Evaluation Standards (GBES) or the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Standards (LEEDS) from the U.S. Green Building Council.

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