China is in the beginning of an energy transition with the aim to build an energy system for the future. The 19th Party Congress in October 2017 confirmed and reinforced the direction and ambitions to complete the development of a moderately prosperous society by 2020; to achieve basic modernisation by 2035 and build a great and modern country which is prosperous, strong, democratic advanced, harmonious and beautiful by 2050. Strong emphasis is placed on the transition of the development of the economy from High Speed to High Quality, a paradigm shift which shall also be adhered to in the energy sector. With the important milestones for 2020, 2035 and 2050, it is the policy of China to develop a “clean, low carbon, safe and efficient energy system”.
China Renewable Energy Outlook (CREO 2018) uses these ambitions as a starting point for defining a clear vision for the energy system in 2050. A vision that can not only support a continuation of economic development but also complies with the ambitious energy and environmental objectives for a sustainable ecological civilisation. A roadmap for implementing this vision is analysed and compared with the development pathway from the current policies influencing the energy system development. Finally, the report analyses the short‐term policy measures to promote renewable energy as part of the energy transition.