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China pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 and peak carbon emissions by 2030. This is an important step in the fight against climate change, and vital to the success of the global energy transition. With the Sino-German Energy Transition project (EnTrans), GIZ, dena and Agora Energiewende will support Chinese policy makers and think thanks in the implementation of a low-carbon energy transition and the integration of large shares of fluctuating renewables into the energy system.


This is the challenge

Reaching carbon neutrality by 2060 is an ambitious goal by the world’s largest economy. Energy supply in China still mainly relies on coal, with wind and solar accounting for only approx. 10 % of annual electricity generation. However, renewable energy development is making great strides: In 2020 alone, China added 72 GW wind and 48 GW solar generation capacity. Over the next few years, the country will integrate increasing quantities of fluctuating renewables and will need to redefine its energy system to reflect this trend adequately.

This is what we do

The efficient integration of fluctuating renewables into the system needs a smart electricity grid, flexibility, a market design that allows for the coordination of many relatively small producers, perspectives for local solutions, as well as sector coupling. Germany has experience integrating renewables safely and efficiently into the system, and develops innovative solutions to achieve a climate-neutral energy system.

Through the EnTrans project GIZ, dena and Agora Energiewende foster the exchange of expertise between Germany and China. dena is involved in the work of five working groups concerned with the following topics:

  • flexibility and grid planning,
  • hydrogen,
  • distributed energy transition,
  • power markets
  • energy efficiency in the industry

Studies, workshops, as well as the direct exchange between German and Chinese experts will enable the sharing of knowledge, with the goal of giving targeted recommendations on the successful development of the Chinese energy system.

The EnTrans project is a component of the Sino-German Energy Partnership (EP) with focus on supporting research cooperation between German and Chinese think tanks. As the central platform for energy dialogue, the EP seeks to strengthen the ties between China and Germany on energy issues. The EnTrans project builds on experiences of a project on energy system transformation in China, which dena conducted together with GIZ the Chinese think tank CNREC (China National Renewable Energy Center) and other partners from 2016 to 2019.

The effect

The project and its working groups will contribute to the successful integration of renewables into the Chinese energy system and to reaching the goal of carbon neutrality by 2060. This would be a major success in the joint global effort of limiting carbon emissions and fighting climate change.

You can find further Information on the project in the EnTrans project-brochure by the Sino-German Energy Partnership and in the detailed working program of the project, which is available here in English and here in Chinese.

Events and Workshops

The final conference of the first project phase of the Sino-German Energy Transition Project (EnTrans) took place on 29 September 2022 in Berlin and online. The project team presented the results of the project, and discussed with experts and the audience how Germany and China can best tackle the challenging task of achieving climate neutrality across all sectors.

In three sessions, a clear picture of the future climate neutral energy system in Germany and China was developed:

A safe, reliable, efficient, and renewable energy system: large shares of variable renewable energies will characterize the future climate neutral energy system. This requires new ways of planning and operating the system, as well utilizing flexibility potentials.

Energy transition across sectors: Not just the energy sector, all sectors of the economy, from transport to industry will have to be decarbonized to reach climate neutrality. Electrification, hy-drogen, and efficiency are building blocks of this transition.

Making a difference locally: The transformation towards climate neutrality will take place locally and large transformations with unique challenges are ahead for rural and urban areas.

The results of the conference are collected as a graphic recording here.

A summary of the conference is available on the website of the Sino-German Energy Partnership.

Renewable hydrogen key to decarbonising industry. For the EnTrans-Project, dena is collaborating with the Institute of Energy Economics at the University Of Cologne (EWI) on a policy report on the use of hydrogen in China and Germany. The results of this research are presented in a workshop

and discussed with the audience. A special focus will be on the cost competitiveness of renewable hydrogen in the aviation-, steel- and chemicals sectors, as well as on policy recommendations to ramp-up renewable hydrogen production to decarbonise these sectors.

Distributed generation plays an increasingly important role in the energy transition towards a climate neutrality: To reach high renewable energy shares, the potential of small-scale renewable energy sources such as rooftop solar connected to the distribution grid must be harnessed alongside large-scale options such as on- and offshore wind. The fluctuating feed-in of these installations, however, leads to significant technical challenges in the distribution grid as well as generation adequacy and network stability challenges on the system level. Decentral flexibility, as provided by electricity storage and DSM, will be a key to tackle these challenges.
Dena examined current experiences with distributed generation and the use of decentral flexibility in Germany and the lessons China can learn from these.

Demand side management (DSM) is crucial to decarbonising industrial processes in energy systems comprising rising shares of renewables. However, in many cases there may be a trade-off between DSM and efficiency measures. Consequently, there is an optimal combination of measures depending on the characteristics of the energy system: An Efficient System Optimum. The German Energy Agency (dena) and the Institute for Energy Economics at the University of Cologne (EWI) prepared a policy report discussing technical, economic and regulatory issues of demand side management and an Efficient System Optimum. The results were presented in a workshop on May 13th 2022.

As part of the Berlin Energy Week the Partners of the Entrans Project conducted two side-events:

Adequate capacity and flexibility – two pillars of a reliable future energy system in Germany and China

With growing shares of variable renewable energy, flexibility measures and adequate planning of dispatchable generation and energy infrastructure play an increasingly important role for security of supply in the future energy system. During the session an overview was given of different flexibility options, their potentials, and how they may be tapped, as well as how assessments of capacity adequacy can take into account these developments.

Planning of charging infrastructure for e-mobility in urban and rural areas of Germany and China

The introduction of electric vehicles in urban and rural environments faces a variety of technical, economic, legal, regulatory and social challenges, that need to be addressed in order to positively facilitate the up-take of EVs and their integration into the grid.  The event presented results of two mirror studies in China and Germany that focus on best practices for efficient EV charging and EV infrastructure investment in urban areas, and model the potential of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging in rural communities.


Hydrogen will play an important role in the future decarbonised energy system, especially in the transformation of the industrial sector. Discussion in the workshop focused on potential business cases in the steel and chemical industry, and in aviation. Questions regarding profitability, financing and potential policy measures driving the development of hydrogen and renewable gases were discussed with experts from Germany and China.

Flexibility technologies and measures are of central importance in energy systems with growing shares of weather-dependent renewable energy generation. The objective of the workshop was to highlight the development and status quo of flexibility use in Germany and Denmark – two countries that already integrate large shares of volatile renewable energy into their electricity systems.

Data Centres were responsible for 1% of the world’s electricity demand in 2018, and studies estimate that this share will rise to 3-13 % by 2030. As large consumers of energy, data centres can play an important role in balancing electricity supply and demand, as well as contribute to the flexibility of the system. Changes in operations, like the introduction of flexibility- and efficiency-measures, increased use of renewable energies, and participation in the electricity market, can make data centre operations more sustainable. The different possibilities and current plans for implementing such measures, barriers to flexible operations, as well as recommendations for policies and incentives in Germany and China are analysed in a study of the Entrans project. In two workshops, results from this analysis were discussed with Chinese and German experts.

Download Workshop Visual (PNG, 3,18 MB)


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Energy systems

A holistic view of refurbishment

Tomorrow’s energy systems will have to overcome many and varied challenges. Production, distribution and consumption need to be linked intelligently to guarantee a constant supply of renewable energies.

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