The Genesis of China’s Renewable Energy Law
Nearly 20 years ago, in 1995, the State Council prepared two documents promoting renewable energy: Report on the Development of New Energy and Renewable Energy and the Outline for the Development of New Energy and Renewable Energy (1996-2010).
But these pronouncements didn’t lead to big changes, and renewable energy floundered because it lacked a firm legal basis and strong and stable policy support.
In November 2000, at a meeting of Energy Foundation China’s Senior Policy Advisory Council (PAC) that focused on international renewable energy legislation and policy, staff noted that renewables were a key feature of global energy trends, and suggested that China pursue legislation to spur its development. This concept won the support of PAC member Qu Geping, chairman of the Environmental and Resources Protection Committee of the 9th National People's Congress. His engagement set the stage for investments in research for a renewable energy law.
The China Renewable Energy Program (CRE) tapped Li Junfeng, then deputy director general of the Energy Research Institute (ERI) of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), to lead the research. On the basis of these studies and with support from members of the Environmental and Resources Protection Committee of the National People's Congress, the Standing Committee of the 10th National People's Congress in June 2003 included the Renewable Energy Promotion Law into the legislation plan for the year.
The National People's Congress encouraged Energy Foundation China to keep working on the law—a strong signal that the partnership with ERI was paying off. CRE brought in leading international renewable energy experts Jan Hamrin and Ryan Wiser.
Mao Rubai, Qu Geping’s successor as chairman of the Environmental and Resources Protection Committee of the 10th National People's Congress, personally took the lead in gathering input and building consensus among all stakeholders. Thanks to the concerted efforts of all parties, it took only slightly more than a year for ERI to complete a draft, NDRC to disseminate it to key policymakers, and the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress to enact the Renewable Energy Law in February 2005.
The law went into effect on January 1, 2006.
The Renewable Energy Law provided the institutional backing needed to stimulate China's renewable energy industry, resolving important open questions on total quantity targets, feed-in tariffs, compulsory power purchase, cost allocation, and special funds.
The law ushered in an era of rapid growth for the renewable energy manufacturing industry and market in China. China quickly became the largest wind-power and solar-power photovoltaic (PV) generation market in the world. The wind and solar manufacturing sector became a new growth point in the Chinese economy, driving down the global cost of renewable energy, helping to catalyze structural upgrades in global energy systems, and buttressing carbon emission reduction efforts.