The cleanest and cheapest energy is energy that we don’t use in the first place. Alongside renewables, enhancing energy conservation and efficiency is key to a successful energy transition. Both Germany and China have made the principle “Efficiency First!” a leitmotif for the implementation of their energy transitions. The example of Germany shows that decoupling economic growth and energy consumption is possible. Between 1990 and 2015, Germany’s primary energy demand fell by 11% while her GDP grew by 43%. Similarly, China has greatly advanced its endeavor to decrease energy intensity. Between 1990 and 2015, China’s energy intensity decreased from 21 to 6.7 MJ/USDGDP, 2011, PPP.
Embedded in the European Union’s framework and energy efficiency targets, Germany has enacted different policy instruments for increasing energy efficiency. With its Energy Efficiency Strategy 2050 and the updated National Action Plan Energy Efficiency (NAPE), published in December 2019, the country determines to apply a mix of instruments and measures to help Germany to achieve a 30% reduction of primary energy consumption (PEC) by 2030 (in comparison to 2008) and support the roadmap towards a 50% PEC cut by 2050. China has set ambitious targets over the years on energy efficiency, covering every aspect of the economy, from housing to industry. According to the 13th Five-Year Plan (2015-2020), China aims to reduce energy intensity by 15% by 2020 compared to 2015. The 13th Five-Year Plan set an upper limit for 2020 primary energy consumption of 5 billion tons of standard coal.
Germany and China cooperate and exchange on pressing challenges, solutions and best practices for increasing energy efficiency in industry and buildings. Apart from facilitating a political and technical dialogue on energy efficiency policies and solutions, the Sino-German demonstration projects on energy efficiency in industry and cities showcase the intensive bilateral cooperation on improving energy conservation in China’s industry, industry parks and city quarters. Additionally, German and Chinese experts and practitioners join forces to evaluate and determine guidelines for setting up energy efficiency networks in the Chinese context.