China has experienced a staggering industrial and economic development since the early 1980s, which has turned the country into the biggest emitter of carbon emissions in the world. As a result, China committed at COP21 in Paris to top carbon emissions before 2030 and to reduce its energy intensity per capita with 60-65 pct. by 2030. 

The Danish Energy Model has caught attention in the process of sustaining economic growth, while simultaneously reducing the use and dependence on fossil fuels.

The Danish Energy Model takes a cross-sectoral approach to integrate renewable energy allowing all energy sectors and stakeholders to cooperate. This is considered an inspiration in China as the country works on integrating renewable energy into their energy mix, which is primarily dominated by coal. The Danish Energy Agency (DEA) has since 2009 supported China on promoting renewable energy development in their low-carbon transition.

Supporting the green 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 collaboration with the DEA.

The work at CNREC is inspired by Denmark’s approach to the energy system and DEA’s many years of experience with energy management based on long-term energy planning. 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. Since then, CNREC has become one of the major sources for Chinese policy makers looking for expert advice and analysis on renewable energy.

To prepare for future development of the Chinese energy system, the cooperation has conducted technology catalogues, roadmaps for renewables, models and analysis of the power system and scenario studies for China laying out possible development paths towards a greener future energy system. Based on these tools, CNREC has launched three consecutive editions of its flagship publication: China Renewable Energy Outlook.

These 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)

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

The Danish Energy Agency has through more than half a decade 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.

Developing high-quality offshore wind in China

The Quality Offshore Wind cooperation was initiated in 2017 with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two governments. The programme aims at improving the quality and feasibility of offshore wind projects in China through the development of three parallel tracks:

  1. Improvement of the regulatory dialogue and framework for offshore wind
  2. Certification standards for wind turbines
  3. Best practice demonstration projects in cooperation with Danish and Chinese entities.

Through improving the quality of offshore wind projects in China, the aim is to facilitate the transition of the Chinese power system towards non-fossil electricity production in a cost-effective manner.

It is part of a Strategic Sector Cooperation program under the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Implementing Agent is the Danish Energy Agency, part of the Ministry of Climate, Energy, and Utilities. On the Chinese side, the National Energy Administration (NEA), part of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is the partner.

Enabling power markets for renewable energy integration

A key precondition for attaining the ‘Below 2 degrees’ scenario, as defined in the China Renewable Energy Outlook, is the development of competitive markets able to incorporate renewables, and in particular the development of efficient spot markets.

Denmark, in coordination with, other European countries, will cooperate with the National Energy Administration (NEA) in establishing a Power Market Expert Group to support the execution of its responsibility for developing spot electricity markets.

The expert group should contribute in an in-depth dialogue clarification process on the development of China’s power markets, with special focus on spot markets and power exchanges. This work will involve experts with deep insight and hands-on experiences from the European market development and operation, including power exchanges, system operators and regulators.

The ambition is to obtain consensus among the key stakeholders on the overall design principles, the long-term goal for development and the pathway forward for the Chinese power market reform, including transitional arrangements for the involved parties.

Publication: Hainan Clean Energy Island

Cooperation with China National Energy Administration on thermal power flexibility

In January 2016, DEA signed a new Memorandum of Understanding on thermal power flexibility with China National Energy Administration. The aim is to use the unique Danish expertise on thermal power plant flexibility to assist China in improving the flexibility of their thermal power plants.

The cooperation aims at facilitating the improvement of flexibility of the Chinese power system, which is much needed in order to integrate increasing shares of variable renewable energy from biomass, hydro, solar and wind.

Through the Sino-Danish programme, the Chinese thermal power plant sector is engaged in a series of demonstration projects aiming at demonstrating increased operational flexibility as well as fuel flexibility through increased use of biomass. Here, the unique Danish experience on thermal flexibility can offer valuable and critical expertise to the Chinese sector.

Diverse funding, including the Danish Climate Envelope

Through the Danish Climate Envelope programme, the Danish Energy Agency (DEA) cooperates bilaterally with four emerging economies that experience increasing carbon emissions and have large mitigation potentials, namely China, Mexico, South Africa and Vietnam. The four programmes focus on decoupling the countries’ carbon emissions from their economic growth by reforming their energy sectors towards more renewable energy and increased energy efficiency. The four programmes were launched during the course of 2013 and 2014 as part of the framework under the 2013 Climate Envelop.

With the Copenhagen Accord adopted at COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009, developed countries committed to provide 30 billion USD for the period 2010-2012 for developing countries. The financing should work as start-up funding for their climate adaptation, mitigation actions, capacity building, technological transfer, and forest protection. Denmark has since 2010 provided 2 billion DKK in funding under the Danish Climate Envelope to fight climate change. The financial contribution from Denmark to the programme in China was 100 million DKK from 2012-2014.

From January 2015, CNREC has reached an agreement with the British Children’s Investment Fund Foundation for support from 2015-2019. The investment from the British charity in CNREC is technically supported by DEA and the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory within the Boosting Renewable Energy as part of China’s Energy Revolution Programme.

Finally, through the Ministry of Foreign affairs, the Quality Offshore programme is financed as part of a Strategic Sector Cooperation aimed at facilitating the energy transition in China.


Pablo Alejandro Hevia-Koch
Advisor (+45) 3392 6861