Country Report - China

Status of Solar Heating/Cooling and Solar Buildings - 2023

Status of the Market for Solar Thermal Systems

Market Size and Trends

By the end of 2022, there was 23.73 million square meters of solar thermal products installed, a 12.3% decrease from 2021.

In 2022, vacuum tube products installed totaled 17.97 million square meters, 9.9% decrease from 2021. Flat-plate collectors and systems installed totaled 5.76 million square meters, a 19.0% decrease from 2021.

Typical Applications and Products

Vacuum tube solar collectors represent 75.7% of the total market and flat plate collectors about 24.3%.

In 2022, the solar thermal application took 81.8% of total market shares, while the product retail market took the 18.2%.

In the solar thermal application market, 89.1% are domestic hot water applications, 10.9% are heating, air conditioning, and process heating applications.

Main Market Drivers

There are two main market drivers of solar energy systems, on the one hand, 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, such as Chinese national standard GB 55015 General code for energy efficiency and renewable energy application in buildings has mentioned that “solar systems should be installed in new buildings”. On the other hand, solar combined heating system can save the conventional fuel fee, which is economical.


Most solar manufactures are located in eastern China. Fifty percent of the manufacturers are centralized in 3 provinces: Zhejiang, Shandong and Jiangsu. In 2014, the annual amount of exports was near USD 300 million. The most general mode of product sales is three-tiered: the manufacturer, distributor, and retailer. For some compact products, such as solar water heaters, the installation is the responsibility of the seller, and for the large construction projects, the manufacturers have specific departments in charge of the installation work.

In the first half of 2019, export of solar thermal products from China are totally 1.15 million square meters, imports of solar thermal products of China are 29 thousand square meters.


There were 5.57 million people engaged in the solar thermal industry at the end of 2022, most of them worked in the field of solar water heating, which represented about an 85% share of the whole industry.


A typical compact solar water heater (generally with 2 m2 collectors and a 200L tank) is about 3,000 to 5,000 RMB Yuan, including the installation charge. For a solar hot water system, the cost is about 1,500 to 2,500 RMB Yuan per square meter collector. For a solar space heating system, the cost is about 2,000 to 4,200 RMB Yuan per square meter collector.

Other Key Topics

Solar district heating is becoming a new area of development for solar thermal systems in China. Over 13,000 square meters of collector area has been built. Besides district heating system, solar combi-system for single-family houses is a new trend in China.

Status of the Market for Solar Buildings


The passive house is the most common solar energy building, especially in the rural areas of northern China. This type of house appeals to many people because of the large southern windows and the possibility for an attached sunspace. Due to the promotion of "nearly/net zero energy building" (NZEB), daylighting, solar heating and cooling are becoming new focus areas.

Market Size and Trends

The existing building area is over 60 billion m2 in China, and the new building areas is about 2 billion m2. There is an enormous building market, and the passive house and solar plus building are encouraged in China.

Main Market Drivers

The main market drivers are the policies and regulations for reducing building energy consumption and renewable energy application. Such as, Chinese national standard GB 55015 General code for energy efficiency and renewable energy application in buildings was published in 2021 and requiring the use of solar system in new buildings.


The number of jobs in the solar heating/cooling sector is 557,000 in 2022, and:

  1. Manufacturing Jobs: 126,000
  2. Construction / installation, operation & maintenance jobs: 431,000


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 Key Research Projects, 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

In recent years, there are great development on solar district heating system, the project of solar district heating system in Langkazi country, Tibet was built in 2018, the solar fraction of which is 100% according to the testing data between Jan.1 to Apr. 30 in 2019. Solar combisystem are used in Qinhuangdao and Xingtai in 2020.

Support Framework


China has a medium-term and long-term plan for renewable energy application, on the background of Carbon Neutrality in 2060, ministry of housing and urban-rural development of China has published the 14th Five-Year Plan of building energy efficiency and green building, proposed different technology road in urban and rural areas. In urban cities, the application of solar hot water in hotels, schools, hospitals and other public buildings with stable hot water demand was encouraged, and the passive solar houses and other appropriate technologies was encouraged to applicated in rural areas.

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.

From 2017, Chinese government pushed clean heating in northern China, encouraging the use of clean energy, including solar thermal, instead of coal for space heating. The central government will give the financial support to the demonstration cities, annual clean heating subsidy of 300 to 500 million yuan for 3 years, and after receiving the subsidy fundings, local government will formulate detailed subsidy policies for solar thermal system based on local conditions, such as subsidy for initial investment.

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