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China Lifts Target for Renewable Energy Use

Date: 08-Nov-05
Country: CHINA

Renewable energy should account for 15 percent of national consumption by 2020, Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan said at an international conference on renewable energy in Beijing.

China had previously aimed to get 10 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, though the 15 percent figure had been mentioned as a possibility as Beijing has talked about getting away from polluting fossil fuels and soaring oil prices.

Within overall energy consumption, electrical generating capacity would be even more skewed towards renewable energy, said Zhang Guobao, vice director of the powerful National Development and Reform Commission.

Generators exploiting water, wind and other renewable sources should make up 30 percent of national capacity by 2020, Zhang said.

Hydropower would dominate the renewable generation capacity, his figures suggested. Water-driven generators would be able to generate 290 million kilowatts by that year, while biomass energy capacity would hit 20 million kilowatts, wind 30 million kilowatts and solar 2 million kilowatts, Zhang said.

In February China's parliament passed a renewable energy law that will take effect in January and set tariffs in favour of non-fossil energy such as water, wind and solar power.

But Zeng said coal-based development would still be the main focus in China's power sector.

"At the same time, China will step up domestic oil and gas exploration and develop hydropower in an orderly way," he added.

Coal currently provides some 70 percent of electricity in China, the world's second-largest energy consumer and producer of greenhouse gases.

"Such a coal-based power structure will remain unchanged for a long time," said Zhou Dabing, president and chief executive of state-owned China Guodian Corp., one of the country's "big five" generation groups, though he added China had only enough coal for another 100 years.

"The environmental situation is also very grim and emissions of carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and other greenhouse gases are very great," Zhou said.

Other officials stressed that the wide gap between the price of conventional power and green power would need to be closed before renewable electricity could become commonplace.

Last year Guangdong in far southern China became the first province to introduce fixed prices for wind energy.

Zhou called on local governments to implement pricing strategies to encourage use of renewable power and for more technologies to be produced on home ground.

"The high price at the beginning for research and development should be shouldered by society as as whole. Companies involved in research and development should be exempt from value-added tax," he said.

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