District energy systems in China

China’s district heat network is the world’s largest. In 2015, it consumed more energy than the entire United Kingdom. While progress is being made, the total impact of energy use and emissions from district heating and even district cooling – on the Chinese economy, on local air quality and health, and on the overall well-being of China’s population – is nevertheless significant. China has great opportunities of lowering the environmental footprint of its district energy system. While the country has pursued assertive public policy decisions in recent years, it is essential to elevate cleaner, energy-efficient district energy as a priority for action so that policy development and implementation can be achieved quickly. This report analyses the ways to decarbonise, optimise and diversify district energy systems in the Chinese context.