Status of Solar Heating/Cooling and Solar Buildings - 2014

Status of the Market for Solar Thermal Systems

Market Size and Trends

The solar thermal product market in China kept growing in 2013, but the increasing rate presented a downward trend. The annual output of solar collector is 66 million square meters with the annual growth rate 3.3% to 2012. Up to the end of 2013, the total installed capacity is 310 million square meters with the growth rate 20.3%. 


Typical Applications and Products

The most typical application still is domestic hot water, the corresponding products are vacuum tube compact solar water heaters and vacuum tube solar collectors. However, compared to the 2012 retail market, the all-glasses vacuum tube collectors of 2013 were basically the same with no obvious increase, while the flat plate collectors increased significantly by the rate of 27.3%

Main Market Drivers

In rural areas without natural gas and centralized heating system, the convenience and economy of solar water heaters are the main market drivers because using solar water heaters can save the conventional fuel fee.

In the urban market, the main driver is local regulation or national regulation. To help reduce green house gas emissions, the Chinese government published a series of regulations to increase the proportion of renewable energy for all energy consumption, which includes the promotion of solar thermal applications. The project that uses renewable energy to satisfy the requirement can apply for a subsidy from the government.



There are about 2,800 solar thermal manufacturers in China; most of them located in eastern China.  Fifty percent of the manufacturers are centralized in 3 provinces: Zhejiang, Shandong and Jiangsu. The annual amount of exports is near USD 250,000,000. The most general mode of product selling is three-tiered: the manufacturer, distributor, and the retailer. For some compact products, such as solar water heaters, the installation is the responsibility of  the seller, and for the large project construction, there are specific departments from manufacturers in charge of the installation work.


There were 3,500,000 people engaged in the solar thermal industry at the end of 2011, most of them worked in the field of solar water heating, which represented about 90% share of the whole industry. 


A typical compact solar water heater (generally with 2 m2 collectors and a 150l tank) is about 3,000 to 5,000 RMB Yuan (almost 400 to 600 Euro), including the installation charge. For a solar hot water system, the cost is about 1500 to 2500 RMB Yuan per square meter collector (180 to 310 Euro). For a solar space heating system, the cost is about 3,000 to 5,000 RMB Yuan per square meter collector (400 to 600 Euro).

Other Key Topics

Industrial processes are becoming a new development branch for solar thermal systems in China. Considering the temperature serviceability, it is used in printing, oilfields, and drying process for preheating. The known application areas are over 20,000m2 collectors. 

Status of the Market for Solar Buildings


The passive house is the most common of the solar energy buildings, especially in the rural areas of northern China. This type of housing appeals to many people because of the large southern windows and the possibility for an attached sunspace.  In addition to the passive house, daylighting is becoming more popular in new commercial buildings and some eco-buildings.

Market Size and Trends

The new building areas in China are almost the half the size of new building areas all over the world in 2011, and  will keep increasing in the coming years. The existing building area is over 40 billion m2, where more than 2 billion m2 of buildings need energy-saving renovation. There is an enormous building market in China.

Main Market Drivers

The main market drivers are the policies for reducing building energy consumption.

The Chinese government plans to reach the target of 15% renewable energy consumption of total energy consumption by the end of 2020. Solar energy applications are one of the important ways to realize this energy saving goal.


There is no separate information on solar buildings.


According to the construction experiences, a well insulated passive house with attached sunspace costs about 40,000 RMB Yuan more than the common residential building in rural areas of northern China. 

Other Key Topics


R&D Activities

R&D Programmes

China has a series of science and technology programs, such as a national five-year plan, National High-tech R&D Program (863 Program), National Key Technologies R&D Program, etc.  Most of these include solar energy research, and some include solar thermal technology research.

R&D Infrastructure

R&D Institutions
Institution Type of Institution Relevant Research Areas IEA SHC Involvement Website
China Academy of Building Research Research institution Solar thermal system, low energy buildings yes
China Renewable Energy Society (CRES) non-profit juridical association Solar Thermal Solar Energy Building not yet
China National Renewable Energy Centre public solar energy yes

Actual Innovations

China is working hard on the research of medium-high temperature collectors. Linuo Co. Ltd. has successfully produced a collector with an outlet temperature that can reach 150 Celcius, which means that  it can be used for absorption air-conditioning system. 

Support Framework


China has a Medium-term and Long-term Plan for renewable energy application. The target of the solar water heater installed capacity is 300 million m2 and total substitution to conventional energy from all solar thermal technology application is 60 million tce (ton coal equivalent) at the end of 2020.

Government Agencies Responsible for Solar Thermal, for Solar Building Activities

At the national level, the Ministry of Science of Technology is responsible for all national S&T programme, and the local S&T commission is responsible for a sub-program at the local level.

Most Important Public Support Measure(s) for Solar Thermal and for Solar Buildings

In 2006, China issued the Law of Renewable Energy of the People’s Republic of China. The government will strongly support the application and the development of solar water heating systems:

  • For national S&T programme, MOST (Ministry of Science and Technology) and MOF (Ministry of Finance) will offer the financial support to the responsible organization, and each research project may get millions RMB Yuan.
  • From 2009 to 2011, a total of 72 cities and 146 counties passed the national selection and became demonstration cities, each of them can receive 50 million to 80 million RMB subsidies.
  • According to the standard, testing, energy label, and energy efficiency subsidy system, China central government will give 5 billion RMB Yuan (0.8 billion USD) to users who buy DSWHs labeled with 1 or 2 grade within one year (before 31th, May 2013).
  • Some local regulations stipulate the new building must apply the solar energy to provide domestic hot water.

Information Resources

National Solar Associations (industry and non-industry)

  • China Renewable Energy Society (CRES)
    CRES is a professional society, composed of professionals working in the field of renewable energy science and technologies in China. CRES is a registered non-profit juridical association; it is a component part of China Association for Science and Technology. CRES has some professional committees, including:

    - ?Solar Photovoltaic Committee
    - Wind Energy Committee
    - Biomass Energy Committee
    - Solar Thermal Conversion Committee
    - Solar Chemistry Committee
    - Hydrogen Committee
    - Ocean Energy Committee
    - Solar Energy Building Committee
    - Natural Gas Hydrate Committee
  • China National Renewable Energy Centre (CNREC) 
    CNREC is the national institution for assisting China’s energy authorities in renewable energy (RE) policy research, and industrial management and coordination. CNREC will research RE development strategy, planning, policy and regulation; coordinate, regulate and implement industrial standardisation; keep track of the development trend for RE industry and technology; push the establishment and improvement of the system for RE technology and product testing and certificating; implement, monitor and assess national pilot projects; manage and coordinate international and regional cooperation, etc.

National Associations on Green/Solar/Sustainable Buildings

Most Important Media for Solar Thermal and Solar Buildings