China is at a critical juncture, having set ambitious medium- and long-term targets, and its immediate decisions must ensure that energy sector evolutions align with the country’s sustainable development. Investing in energy efficiency is cost-effective and delivers numerous socio-economic benefits: three times the return on every dollar spent on energy efficiency can be expected from lower energy expenditures alone.
There are additional energy efficiency potentials that cannot be easily quantified. For instance, higher efficiency would ensure the most sustainable and productive rollout of the New Infrastructure plan and the transition to a modern digital economy, involving energy-intensive data centres and large-scale 5G network deployment. Many Chinese ESCOs are already adopting digital technologies to meet rising demand for intelligent, integrated energy services that promote smarter, more competitive industrial activity.
With rapid urbanisation continuing over the next decade, energy efficiency is also critical for smart cities. By prioritising energy efficiency in urban planning, local governments can construct green buildings and smart municipal infrastructure that improves the quality of life. Smart HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) systems, efficient local cold chains and new business models such as “cooling as a service” are all solutions to curb rapidly rising energy demand for cooling while making expanding cities more resilient.
China already has a clear vision of where it wants to be in ten years, and the right investments today will help China get there.