China consumes approximately 20% of primary energy in its building sector, and this share is estimated to continue to grow in the future due to fast urbanization. The Chinese government has developed many policies to regulate energy uses in buildings. Recently, China has developed a roadmap to continue reducing energy consumption in its building sector and promote nearly zero energy buildings.
This paper analyzes the energy and CO2 impacts of different scenarios of adoption of net/nearly zero energy buildings in China from now to 2050. First, it analyzes the technical potential for Chinese urban residential buildings to reach net zero energy through modeling and survey of current Chinese building energy use patterns. The feasibility study is done by investigating both efficiency measures and renewable energy integration in buildings. Then a detailed bottom-up model is applied to all of China’s residential and commercial building stock where it is feasible to achieve net zero energy through 2050 under several scenarios of renewable energy utilization in buildings. The impact of net zero energy buildings development in China is compared with a business as usual case where there is little efficiency gain and no renewable integration in Chinese building sector. For all buildings, we find overall feasible annual primary energy savings ranging from 270 to 320 Million tonnes of coal equivalent (Mtce) annually in 2030 and from 740 Mtce to 1060 Mtce annually in 2050 across the three scenarios, with the majority of savings from energy efficiency measures.