China Stages the World’s Largest Energy Saving Project

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published Nov 26, 2014 11:35 AM, last modified Dec 29, 2014 08:26 PM

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China Stages the World’s Largest Energy Saving Project


China accounts for less than 10 percent of the world’s gross domestic product, yet consumes 20 percent of the world’s energy.

Industry accounts for over 70 percent of China’s total energy consumption, and the highest consumers are the steel, cement, and chemical industries. But the energy efficiency of these industries has consistently lagged behind leading international levels.

In 2003, the China Industry Program went to work to improve the efficiency of China’s enterprises. The program first supported Shandong Province steelworks enterprises Jinan Iron and Steel and Laiwu Iron and Steel in setting up energy-saving pilot projects. The two companies signed voluntary agreements with their local governments. CIP, in collaboration with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), the Energy Research Institute (ERI) of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China Energy Conservation Association (CECA), and others, provided consultation and technical support. These voluntary agreements proved to be effective energy-saving tools and were included in the revised Energy Conservation Law of the People’s Republic of China passed in 2007.

The Shandong pilots demonstrated the vast potential of industrial energy saving in China. With that evidence at hand, in 2006 NDRC selected 1,008 enterprises with annual energy consumption of over 180,000 tonnes of coal equivalent (tce) and launched the Top-1,000 Enterprises Energy Efficiency Program (Top-1,000 Program). As with the two pilots, the enterprises signed contracts with their local governments, voluntarily committing to meeting energy-saving targets.

The program far exceeded expectations: The enterprises saved 156 million tce by the end of the 11th Five-year Plan period, exceeding the initial target of 100 million tce—greater than the total carbon emissions reduction target for developed countries stipulated in the Kyoto Protocol.

Building on this progress, NDRC created the Top-10,000 Enterprises Energy Saving and Low Carbon Program (Top-10,000 Program), bringing it online in the 12th Five-year Plan period.

In 2010, CIP began focusing on ensuring that the Top-10,000 Program would be properly implemented. The NDRC-affiliated National Energy Conservation Center (NECC) proposed overall guidelines for the program, recommended that program outcomes be included in the evaluation of provincial and municipal governments’ overall energy saving performance, and advocated for establishing a reward and penalty system.

Drawing on this work, NDRC and 12 other government departments announced the Top-10,000 Program Implementation Plan in December 2012. This campaign remains to this day the world’s largest energy saving project, involving 16,078 enterprises with annual energy consumption of approximately 2 billion tce, accounting for roughly 87 percent of China’s total industrial energy consumption and 60 percent of the total national energy consumption. With a target to save 255 million tce during the 12th Five-year Plan period, the Top-10,00 program represents a contribution of approximately 38 percent to the plan’s energy saving goal.

CIP has continued to support the training of local personnel involved in energy saving, third-party capacity building, and policy innovation. It provided support for the compilation of the Training Manual for the Top-10,000 Program Implementation Plan, set up professional training teams, and provided trainings for 350 local-level personnel.

Government is now the driver of industrial energy-saving efforts. Going forward, we will assist in a transition so industry takes over that role. We will also help industry move from achieving purely quantitative energy saving targets to gaining better quality and efficiency in saving energy.

China’s Top-10,000 Program has already attracted the attention of the global energy policy community. Its continued success could make it a model to be emulated globally in industry’s efforts to save energy.

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