Supporting Policies for Ocean Energy


China released a white paper on the country's energy development on December 21, 2020. The document, titled "Energy in China's New Era”, was released by the State Council Information Office to provide a full picture of the country's achievements in energy development and major policies and measures for energy reform. China is giving priority to non-fossil energy, and is striving to substitute low-carbon for high-carbon energy and renewable for fossil energy, according to the white paper. The country has been facilitating the use of solar energy, developing wind power, hydropower as well as safe and structured nuclear power while advancing biomass, geothermal and ocean energy development in accordance with local conditions, it noted. China is also proposing for the international community to work together on the sustainable development of global energy, address the challenges of climate change, and build a cleaner and more beautiful world.

The proposals for formulating the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035 was released on October 29. The new China’s development plan proposals, which stress innovation, domestic demand, quality of development and high-level opening-up among others, will provide more development opportunities and bring shared prosperity to the world. China will further accelerate the development of emerging industries such as new energy, new materials environmental protection and marine equipment, according to the proposals. China looks to further improve its energy structure by tapping the potential of various types of renewable energy, including solar energy, wind energy, biomass, geothermal and ocean energy.

In April 2020, the National Energy Administration (NEA) issued the draft of the Energy Law of the People’s Republic of China and referred to the general public for comments. China has listed renewable energy as a priority area for energy development. China will formulate medium- and long-term targets for the total amount of renewable energy, and formulate a guaranteed purchase system for power generation in accordance with the targets. China will further formulate relevant financial policies to support the development of renewable energy, including ocean energy, it noted.

In March 2020, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), Ministry of Justice issued "on speeding up the establishment of green production and consumption laws and policies of views”. According to the views, China will increase policy support for distributed energy, smart grid, energy storage, multi-energy complementary, speed up the formulation of standards and supporting policies for the development of hydrogen energy, ocean energy and other new energy.

In 2020, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) is working out the National Coastal Zone Protection and Utilization Plan. Ocean energy will be included in the marine functional zoning and supported, to ensure the use of sea areas for ocean energy projects, in order to speed up the industrialization of ocean energy


In order to further promote the development of the renewable energy electricity market, China has proposed the establishment of a renewable energy electricity consumption guarantee mechanism to stimulate the potential of local markets. On 18 May, NDRC, NEA issued the Notice on the targets of the Renewable Energy Electricity Consumption of Provincial-level Administrative Regions in 2020. According to the notice, the obligatory targets of renewable energy power consumption for each province in 2020 was proposed.


To promote the development of ocean energy, the Chinese Government established the largest special funding programme for marine renewable energy (SFPMRE) in 2010. It mainly focuses on the construction of isolated island power generation systems and grid-connected power stations, industrialization for key technology, research and development for new technology and the public service system. As of 2020, the funding programme of marine renewable energy has invested above 1.3 billion RMB since 2010, and 116 projects were funded.

With the support of special funding programme, the cumulative installation of tidal current turbines is 3.73 MW since 2010, about 3 MW is currently in the water. More than 40 wave energy devices have completed sea trials, with a maximum single power of 500 kW, and Some of WEC technologies have been applied in remote island power supply, mariculture, buoy power supply and other fields.

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’. There were 2 ocean energy tasks in the programme, task I “Research on ocean energy resources characteristics and high-efficiency energy conversion mechanism” and task II “Research on ocean energy key technology and equipment”. The application of projects was started in 2018. So far, 3 R&D projects on ocean energy have been supported.

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.

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