With more than 1.4 billion inhabitants, China is the world’s most populous country and the second-largest global economy with an average annual growth rate of almost 7 per cent. At present, fossil fuels dominate the Chinese energy system  and China is the world´s largest energy consumer and greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter. In 2018, China’s total CO2 emissions were roughly equivalent to 28 percent of the world’s total, while its coal consumption was more than 1,900 million tons of oil equivalent. This corresponds to 50.5 per cent of the world’s total coal consumption. The energy sector in China is at a critical juncture with pressure to continue to support economic growth while combating local air pollution, and reducing GHG emissions.

China is determined to make a transition to an environmentally sustainable growth model and has ratified the Paris Agreement. In addition, President Xi Jinping has stated that CO2 emissions will have peaked before 2030, and that China strives to become carbon neutral before 2060.

Sino-Danish cooperation on green energy transition

With the new Chinese ambitions, China will only have 40 years to become entirely carbon neutral. To achieve these targets, China will need to leapfrog over obsolete solutions. Denmark has demonstrated that it is possible to combine economic growth with a parallel reduction of CO2 emissions and energy consumption. Some of these experiences are useful for China.

China and Denmark have a common responsibility to share and inspire each other with good solutions. Through the Danish Energy Partnership Programme (DEPP) and two strategic sector cooperation programmes the Sino-Danish cooperation currently focuses on exchanging experiences within:

  • Long-term energy modelling and planning
  • Enhanced framework conditions for renewable energy including off-shore wind development
  • Integration of renewable energy and flexibility of the power sector
  • Energy efficiency and district heating
  • Energy and climate policy development

Energy transition in China through long-term scenarios

In 2012, the Chinese energy authorities officially opened the China National Renewable Energy Centre (CNREC) in close cooperation with the Danish Energy Agency (DEA). The annual China Renewable Energy Outlook (CREO) report is a key deliverable of the cooperation. The outlook analyses a feasible path for a smooth transition to a clean, low-carbon, safe, and efficient energy system in China. Experts from the DEA work closely with CNREC staff on developing strategic energy policies, state-of-the-art methodologies, and tools to encourage the use of renewable energy in the Chinese energy system. Today, CNREC has become one of the major sources for Chinese policy-makers looking for expert advice and analysis on renewable energy.

The reports can be downloaded here:

CREO 2016

CREO 2017 / (Executive summary)

CREO 2018 / (Executive summary)

CREO 2019 / (Full report)

CREO 2019 / (Executive summary)

CREO 2019 / (Fact sheet)

CREO 2020 / (Executive Summary)

China Energy Transition Outlook Executive Summary 2021 (CETO)

Sharing experiences on energy efficiency and district heating, from capacity building to pilot projects 

For more than half a decade, the Danish Energy Agency has worked with the Chinese government on Energy Efficiency and District Heating initiatives. Among our partners, the National Energy Conservation Centre (NECC) plays a central role in our program focused on district heating systems, and utilization of surplus heating from industry, power plants and waste incineration. The first pilot study has successfully demonstrated the value Danish expertise in these areas could have for the Chinese energy system and environment.

Significant attention has been given to building local capacity in China in order to spread knowledge about energy planning by teaching local decision makers and technical staff in relevant government agencies and local communities.

In addition to NECC, the Danish Energy Agency works with a number of international actors to further the spread of green heating in China, for example the International Energy Agency, Danish Trade Council, Danish Board of District Heating, Beijing District Heating Group and the Chinese National Renewable Energy Centre.

Strategic sector cooperation: Clean Heating and Quality Offshore Wind

China and Denmark have tailored two strategic sector cooperation programmes: the Sino-Danish Clean Heating Program and Quality Offshore Wind Program.

China is expected to have the largest installed offshore wind capacity in the world by 2025. The Sino-Danish Quality Offshore Wind Program supports the development of China’s offshore wind sector and demonstrates best practice technical and regulatory solutions, through engaging directly with Chinese government agencies and other relevant stakeholders.

Long-term planning is also a core part of the Sino-Danish work on clean heating as the Chinese district heating market is set to double 2-3 times over the next 30 years. Through the Sino-Danish District Heating Cooperation, Denmark is sharing its heat planning experiences and best practices with government ministries, provinces, cities and demonstration projects in China.


The Danish Energy Agency cooperates with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), National Energy Administration (NEA), Energy Research Institute (ERI), China Renewable Energy Engineering Institute (CREEI) and State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC). The 5-year Sino-Danish energy programme 2020-25 also includes a new partnership cooperation with the Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE).

The Danish-Chinese Energy Partnership Programme (DEPP), which is in its third phase running from 2020-2025, is financed by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs from the Danish Climate Envelope.

Close Danish parties include the Danish embassy in Beijing as well as the Danish TSO operator, Energinet.

Jens Hein
(+45) 3395 5047