Overview about energy conservation regulations in China

In the 21st century, China’s economy is rapidly developing, while the ecological environment is gradually deteriorating. Problems have become more serious due to the extensive use of resources, and the contradiction between economic development and the resource environment is becoming more and more prominent. In the “Outline of the 11th Five-Year Plan for the National Economy and Social Development of the People’s Republic of China” released in 2006, China initially set a target of reducing energy consumption per unit of GDP (RMB 10,000) by about 20%. In 2007, the previous version of China’s Energy Conservation Law, which was enacted in November 1997, was revised to establish a national policy on energy conservation: Energy conservation is a fundamental national policy of our country, and the government shall implement an energy development policy that balances “conservation” and “development” and gives priority to “conservation”.

In addition, the “Energy Conservation Law of People’s Republic of China” establishes the general basic policies for energy conservation, and energy conservation policies for products, including energy efficiency labeling management, certification and government procurement for energy-saving product. In order to align with the implementation of energy efficiency labeling management, “Measures for Energy Efficiency Labeling Management” was published in August 2004 (revised in 2016). It stipulates the implement measures of energy efficiency labeling for compulsory subject products. Furthermore, more detailed regulations and standards related to the subject products and certification were formulated and released one after another.

In order to establish a complete energy conservation system, the Chinese government has established various kinds of voluntary certification systems to promote energy conservation, which were based on the “China Energy Saving Product Certification Administrative Measures”, the “Energy Efficiency Top Runner System Implementation Plan”, the government green procurement system, and the environmental protection “Top Runner” system.


Energy Conservation Law

The “Energy Conservation Law of People’s Republic of China” was enacted on November 1, 1997 (enforced on January 1, 1998). The current law was revised and promulgated on October 28, 2007 and came into effect on April 1, 2008. It establishes basic policies for energy conservation in general and energy conservation policies for all energy-consuming products. In terms of products, the law mainly makes provisions to the following three aspects.

 “Energy efficiency labeling management”-Compulsory

The state has established compulsory energy efficiency standards for energy-consuming products and equipment, and energy consumption limit standards of per unit product that has a high energy consumption in the production process.

For the household appliances that are widely used and have relatively high energy consumption, such as home appliances, the state implements the energy efficiency labeling management. Producers and importers must display energy efficiency labels on the product packaging or in the instruction manual.  In addition, they have to register and store them with the relevant authorities.

“Certification of energy-saving product”- Voluntary

On a voluntary basis, producers and sellers of energy-consuming products may submit an application for energy-saving product certification. After passing the certification, an energy-saving product certification certificate will be issued, and the certification mark can be used on the energy-consuming product or its packaging.

“Government Procurement”

A government purchasing list of energy-saving products and equipment was made by government, the products and equipment, which have obtained energy-saving product certification, will be given priority in the list.


Labeling system related to energy conservation

The following table is a summary of the overview of each labeling system related to energy conservation in China.

Name Energy efficiency labels Energy-saving certification Top Runner for Energy Efficiency Green Products
property Compulsory Any Any Any
related law Energy Efficiency Label Management Law China Energy Saving Product Certification Administrative Measures Energy Efficiency Top Runner System Implementation Plan Opinions of the General Office of State Council on Establishing a Unified System for Green Product Standard, Certification and Labeling
Start year 2005 1999 2014 2016
Overview Target products are required to be labeled (the highest level is grade 1), and the sale of target products without labeling is prohibited. The Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) is used in the inspection of determining the label grade. A system of conducting certification by the China Standardization and Certification Center (CSC), which is a third party organization. Energy-saving product certification certificates and energy-saving labels are issued by the State Administration for Market Regulation and Certification and Accreditation Administration of P.R.C. Energy-saving product certification certificates and labels are valid for four years. Certified products are eligible for preferential purchasing under the green procurement system and preferential policies for energy-saving products. The system is made to promote energy conservation and emission reduction in the whole society by taking measures such as selecting the top runners in the following three areas: energy-consuming products, energy-intensive industries, and public institutions, and strengthening incentive measures that contribute to improving energy consumption efficiency. This is a system that is being promoted in order to promote the unification of standards and labels for environmentally friendly green products. The target products are the items in the “Green Product Certification List” of Certification Activity 1, and the items included in the system jointly promoted with relevant national organizations belonging to other green product conformity assessment  activities (including products subject to China RoHS).


Energy efficiency labels

Labels. related laws property Overview
Energy Efficiency Label Management Law Mandatory
  • Target products (refer to the table below) are required to be labeled.
  • Sales of unlabeled target products are prohibited.
  • The highest grade is grade 1.
  • Products below grade 5 or grade 3 (MEPS: Minimum Energy Performance Standards) are prohibited from sale.

List of target products (as of May 2021)

  1. Household refrigerator
  2. Room air conditioner
  3. Electric washing machine
  4. Packaged unit type air conditioner
  5. Fluorescent lamp with built-in ballast for general lighting
  6. High-pressure sodium lamp
  7. Chiller (water cooler)
  8. Small and medium-sized three-phase asynchronous motors
  9. Domestic instantaneous gas water heaters
  10. Inverter type room air conditioner
  11. Multi air conditioner
  12. Hot water storage type electric water heater
  13. Household electromagnetic cooker
  14. Computer monitor
  15. Copiers, printers, facsimiles
  16. Automatic electric rice cooker
  17. AC fan
  18. AC contactor (contactor)
  19. Volumetric Compressors
  20. Power transformer
  21. Ventilator
  22. Flat-panel television (TV)
  23. Domestic microwave ovens and similar applications
  24. Digital broadcasting receiver
  25. Refrigeration showcase with separate freezer
  26. Solar water heating system for home use
  27. Microcomputer
  28. Exhaust fan
  29. Heat pump water heater
  30. Household gas stove
  31. Commercial gas stove
  32. Water source (geothermal) heat pump unit
  33. Lithium Bromide Absorption Water Chiller
  34. LED lamps with built-in non-directional ballast for general lighting
  35. Projector
  36. AC exhaust fans for household and similar applications
  37. Commercial cold storage with built-in compressor unit
  38. Permanent magnet synchronous motor
  39. Air cleaner
  40. LED lighting fixtures for road and tunnel lighting
  41. Ducted air conditioning unit
  42. Low ambient temperature air heat source heat pump (chilled water) unit


Implementation plan for the energy efficiency top runner system (energy efficiency “top runner” system implementation plan)

Products and industries covered by the system:

According to the plan, the system covers three sectors: energy-consuming products, energy-intensive industries, and public institutions. Currently, the following products and industries are listed as key targets for each sector, it plans to further expand the scope in the future.

  1. Energy-consuming products:
    Home appliances such as air conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, etc.
  2. Energy-intensive industries:
    Thermal power generation units, steel, petrochemicals, building materials, etc.
  3. Public institutions:
    Schools, hospitals, etc.


Products subject to the top runner system for environmental preservation

By comprehensively considering the environmental impact, market size and potential, direction of technology development and the related environmental standards, products that have a large usage volume, a large potential for reducing pollution emissions, a complete set of relevant standards, or with mature environmental friendly alternative technologies are targeted to implement the “top runner” system, which in terms of reducing the sources of pollution caused by air, water, solid waste, noise, etc. And in the future, the target will be gradually expanded to other products.