Supporting Policies for Ocean Energy

In 2021, China has implemented a series of climate change strategies, measures and actions to support the development of renewable energy, including ocean energy, and will release implementation plans and supporting measures in relevant sectors and industries in the next stage, with a view to building a "1+N" policy system of carbon peak and carbon neutral.

In 2021, promoting the large-scale development of ocean energy has been set out in the ‘The Outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035’. 

In 2021, China issued some policies and measures to promote the development of renewable energy industries such as wind power and photovoltaic power in terms of preferential loan, green power certificates and feed-in tariffs, providing a reference basis for further research and development of ocean energy industry policies.  

In order to promote renewable energy technological innovation and development, the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) released the National Key Research and Development Program (NKRDP) of ‘Renewable Energy and Hydrogen Energy Technology’ to support research on the efficient conversion mechanism, key technologies and equipment of ocean energy. The application of projects was started in 2018.


Consenting processes

Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is used as a decision making tool: every project relating to the sea must conform to the Marine Functional Zoning.

In 2012, the State Council approved the National Marine Functional Zoning (2011-2020), and eleven planning of provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions. China started the Marine Functional Zoning work in 1989.

Marine Functional Zoning is zoned in 8 categories: farming fishery area, port, shipping area, industrial and urban area, mineral and energy, touristic area, marine protected area, special use area and reservations.

Pre-selected areas for ocean energy development have been defined, under the category “mineral and energy”. Site selection planning should be consistent with the National Renewable Energy Development Planning, Marine Functional Zoning, Island Protection Planning and Marine Environmental Protection Planning.

The authorities involved in the consenting process are the following:

• Financial funding authorities: National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Science and Technology and State Oceanic Administration (SOA). The involved authority depends on the financial funding sources of projects;

• Ministry of land and resources and related local department;

• Local electricity sector – approval of the grid-connection;

• Environmental Protection Departments – responsible for the EIA;

• Energy Management Departments – responsible for reviewing the energy assessment report.

The consenting process differs depending if it is a project funded by the government or with private funding. The examination and approval system applies only to the government investment project. The ratification system for enterprises do not use government funds to invest in the construction of major projects and restricted projects There are seven required approvals for developers:

• Initial approval by the Development and Reform Department of the project proposal;

• Examination and approval procedures of site selection and planning, pre-examination on land and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) by the Land Resources Departments and Environmental Protection Departments;

• Approval of the feasibility study report and project application report by the Development and Reform Department;

• Planning permission procedures approved by the Urban Planning Department;

• Formal land use approved by the Land Resources Department;

• Certificate of right to use sea areas from the SOA or local government of maritime administrative departments;

• For power production and grid connection a specific permitting procedure is required which involves the utility distribution grid operator.

There is no specific authority responsible to manage the ocean energy consenting process as a whole (“one stop shop” facility or entity). The approval departments depends on the funding sources for the project.

An EIA must be submitted to the State Oceanic Administration and related Environmental Protection Departments.

The responsible for the decision on the requirement for an EIA are the Environmental Protection Departments. A “Marine Engineering Environmental Impact Assessment Technical Guideline” is available for developers, as well as related environmental protection standards. EIA baseline and post-deployment monitoring of the projects are not done.

Regulations issued by the SOA for the consenting process of ocean energy projects:

• Marine Renewable Energy Special Funds Management Interim Measures;

• Marine Renewable Energy Special Fund Project Implementation Management Rules

Regulations and legislation adapted for ocean energy:

• National Medium and Long-term Science and Technology Development Plan (2006-2020);

• “Renewable Energy Law Amendment”;

• “Renewable Energy Tentative Management Measures for Electricity Generating Prices and Expenses Allocation”;

• “Interim Measures for Renewable Energy Electricity Price Additional Income Allocation”.

The formal mechanism of public participation consists in expert meetings to select the preferential developers.

There are two mandatory consultees:

• State Oceanic Administration (SOA) – responsible for the approval of ocean engineering;

• National Marine Consulting Center – technical review of EIA documents.

Informal consultation activities implemented during the licensing process can be on a sample survey form, panel discussion, feasibility study meeting, hearing, etc. and it shall include the representatives of citizens influenced by ocean engineering, legal persons or organizations.

It is clear to applicants what permits are required, in what order and what information must be supplied at what time. Furthermore, there is guidance available to help developers during the process.

The OES is organised under the auspices of the International Energy Agency (IEA) but is functionally and legally autonomous. Views, findings and publications of the OES do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the IEA Secretariat or its individual member countries.