With the rapid economic development, the energy demand is rising and energy-related greenhouses gas emissions are growing rapidly in China. The usage percent of renewable energy in use is still low while the energy consumption is still increasing. Due to the expanding pressure from energy demand, environment concerns and society issues, distributed energy systems (DESs), especially combined heat and power (CHP), are encouraged and expected to play a greater role by the government. This paper mainly seeks to explore and answer some of questions. Firstly, the different technologies of various DES options are briefly reviewed. Then the question of why distributed energy systems should be developed in China is considered. Recent trends and current patterns of energy supply and use in China are also discussed. Some typical distributed energy systems used in China are introduced. This article also discusses what barriers need be overcome if China wishes to move towards a sustainable energy future. Finally, several suggestions are proposed to favor the wide application of DES in China. It is concluded that DES is a good option with respect to China’s sustainable development that has institutional, market and regulatory support.

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