by Deng Qian, Larry Neild, Zhang Miao
LONDON, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese economy is slowing down but still growing, and in a short period of time China has taken gigantic steps in terms of clean energy, the International Energy Agency's (IEA) Executive Director Fatih Birol has said in a recent interview with Xinhua.
The Chinese economy is "moving from a heavy industry-based economy, slowly but surely to a lighter economy, a modern economy, and this is also reflected in the Chinese energy portfolio very much. So it is normal that economic growth is slowing down and is still a very strong growth. But the important thing to remember here there is the global tendency is becoming lighter rather than heavier," Birol said during the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.
He also noticed that Chinese energy demand growth will also slow down. "It is a reflection of the Chinese oil needs. For example, more and more oil products such as gasoline are used, like they use in cars, and more jet fuel is used, like they use in planes. But less heavy oil, diesel is used," he said.
"It is a mirror of the Chinese economy. The heavy fuels are less used and the lighter fuel such as gasoline and jet fuel are more used ... Generally, the Chinese economy is going in the right direction by making more use of renewable energy and also making more use of nuclear energy and is becoming more energy efficient," he said.
The expert said China has become the world "champion" of renewable energies, such as solar energy, nuclear energy and hydropower.
In fact, Birol spoke highly of China's energy reform. "The Chinese reforms in the energy sector are all in the right direction," he said, adding that China is improving the efficiency of the sector.
He said that China is making maximum use of its hydropower, wind and solar resources, and has now become an exporter of renewable energy technologies. China is also making major efforts in terms of nuclear power. Today almost half of the nuclear power plants built in the world are in China.
He pointed out that China is making a lot of efforts to shut down inefficient coal-fired power plants because of the pollution in the cities. "I think this is also very responsible in order to pay attention to the health of its citizens," Birol said about the efforts.
"All in all, I think it is very much in line with the Chinese economic environment and energy security objectives," he said.
Soon, Birol said, he would be traveling to China to attend a ministerial meeting on clean energy.
"At the IEA, we work very closely with the Chinese government," the IEA head said.
As China has taken big leaps in terms of clean energy in only a short period of time, "we have been, and we are supporting the Chinese government in those steps, and also making the world understand the major achievements of China," Birol said.
"China had a different image in terms of energy a few years ago, but now this image is changing, slowly but surely, showing the modern face of China in terms of energy, and we are making a big contribution for the world to understand the changing face of China in the energy sector," Birol added.
"I think some of the reforms, some of the steps China is making can also be an inspiration for other countries in the world," he said.