An analysis of China's current five-year energy conservation plan.

Julian Wong looks at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s analysis on the energy conservation programs in China’s current five-year plan.

Last month, I had the unique opportunity to gather with some of the top U.S-based thinkers on Chinese energy and climate policy. Participants hailed from World Resources Institute’s ChinaFAQs group of experts. Since it was a closed door session, I can’t spill everything that was discussed, but I did get permission to share what I thought was the most fascinating segment of the day’s programs.

Mark Levine and Lynn Price of Lawrence Berkeley National Labs’ China Energy Group, presented a fascinating array of findings on how China is progressing on its energy conservation goals in its current five-year plan (2006 to 2010). The study, conducted by LBNL’s China Energy Group (in collaboration with Tsinghua University and McKinsey) analyzed China’s efforts in seven energy conservation programs—the Ten Key Projects, Enforcement of New Buildings Energy Standards, Building Retrofits, Top-1000 Energy-Consuming Enterprises, Structural Adjustments, Small Plant Closures, and Appliance Standards. A recent article in Science Daily also covered LBNL’s work in this study.

Lynn explained in an interview the motivations for conducting such a study:

LBNL’s China Energy Group focuses on end-use energy demand, so we are always interested to learn more about the details behind the overall numbers. During this Five-Year Plan, China has been reporting remarkable progress in reducing energy use per unit of economic growth, but the question in our minds was how were they achieving this? With this project, we set out to really understand the end-use policies and programs that China established and how they were or were not contributing to the overall reduction in energy intensity.

The following slides, which are informative and comprehensive, were what was used in Mark and Lynn’s presentation. I highly recommend going through them in entirety.
LBNL Assessment of China’s11th 5YP

LBNL’s findings is summed up best by Mark, lead author of the study and founder of the China Energy Group, who said in an interview:

Overall, China has achieved a remarkable turnaround in reducing demand growth. In 2006, most observers felt that China’s 2010 target was virtually impossible to achieve. They appear now to be on the road to success in meeting the target.

Indeed, a quick summary of the team’s findings (see slide 10) shows that five of the seven energy conservation programs listed above were on course to meet their targets.

Echoed Lynn: While we were able to offer advice on how to improve some of the programs based on international experience, overall we were surprised to learn of the breadth, depth, and success of the energy-efficiency programs that China has established in a very short period of time.

One of the more interesting findings are with respect to new buildings (see slide 14), where it was found that, at least in cities, compliance by 2008 of new buildings in the the design phase is up to 98 percent, and those during the enforcement phase (i.e. already built) was at about 81 percent.

“China has put into place a system that gives the proper incentives to the design institutes and builders which appears to be quite effective,” the LBNL researchers conclude. The program to retrofit existing buildings for efficiency has been less successful, and together with structural adjustment, represents the two (of the seven) programs that are not on track to meet their 2010 targets. (Speaking of meeting targets, one program has since fully met its 2010 goal is the Top 1000 Enterprises program, as reported here).

The recommendations (starting on slide 23) by LNBL are also valuable, with one in particular worth highlighting:

Establish an independent institution similar to the U.S. Energy Information Administration to systematically collect and analyze data focused on end-use energy consumption.

This addresses the perplexing nature of energy data in China, which Mark and his team believed to be largely consistent and accurate from the big-picture point of view, but difficult to untangle once one started to dig a little deeper. We’ll have more to say on energy data and transparency on this blog in the months to come.

A full report by LBNL based on these findings will be published sometime next month, so look out for it on LBNL China Energy Group’s webpage.

Related Posts:
The Top 1000 Energy-Consuming Enterprises Program
Putting China’s Coal Power Sector in its Proper Perspective
China Climate Progress Report 2009

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