BEIJING, March 4 (Xinhua) -- China will set directives for greater use of clean energy and lower carbon emissions to put its economy on the track of sustainable development, Zhang Guobao, former head of the National Energy Administration, said Friday.
FOCUS ON CLEAN ENERGY
China aims to increase the proportion of non-fossil fuels in overall primary energy use to 11.4 percent by 2015 from the current 8 percent, Zhang Guobao told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.
The target has been included in the draft of the 12th Five-Year Program (2011-2015) and will be mandatory, said Zhang, a member of the Standing Committee of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. It will keep China on course to achieve its pledge to up its use of non-fossil fuels to 15 percent by 2020, he noted.
The draft will be reviewed and is expected to be approved by the country's lawmakers attending the annual session of the National People's Congress, which opens Saturday in Beijing.
As China's economy has greatly expanded over the past three decades, so too has its consumption of energy which mainly comes from coal. Zhang said coal accounts for around 70 percent of China's energy mix, 30 percentage points higher than the world's average.
To have a greener economy, China should trim its dependency on coal and promote greater use of cleaner fuels, he said, referring to nuclear power and wind, solar and biomass energy.
By the end of 2010, China's installed wind power capacity exceeded 41 million kilowatts to be the world's largest. China also is presently constructing 28.71 million kilowatts of nuclear power capacity, also the most in the world.
Zhang said the five-year plan will aim to boost the development of nuclear power while ensuring the safety. China will start construction of its first inland nuclear power plant this year, he said, adding that it will be built in either Hubei, Hunan or Jiangxi province.
By 2020, more than half of the 15 percent non-fossil share will come from hydropower, he added.
MOVE TOWARD SUSTAINABILITY
Greater use of clean and renewable fuels is part of the government's efforts to promote energy saving and environmental protection as the country's economic success has come with steep costs: unsustainable growth and pollution.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said on Feb. 27 that the government must not sacrifice the environment for the sake of rapid growth any longer.
Therefore, China has set its annual economic growth target at 7 percent during the five years to 2015, lower than the 7.5 percent goal set for the 2006-2010 period, Wen added.
Wen also said that China aimed to cut the amount of energy and carbon dioxide emissions needed for every unit of gross domestic product by 16 to 17 percent from this year to the end of 2015.
That is a step further toward the government's goal of 40 to 45 percent reduction in carbon intensity by 2020, relative to 2005 levels.
Zhang said the two goals will be included as mandatory in the new five-year plan, which will also demand higher energy efficiency.
The government will also impose a cap on its total energy consumption at 4 billion tonnes of coal equivalent by 2015, compared with 3.2 billion tonnes consumed last year, he said.
That meant the five-year period will see an average annual increase of 4.24 percent in energy use.
"The task of energy conservation and emission cuts is arduous," he said, as he compared the growth of energy use with the 7 percent of annual economic expansion set by the central government during the five years to 2015.
Furthermore, he said that energy security is also a significant job through the five years when China will increase strategic reserves of oil and gas, while constructing storage bases for natural gas and coal.
He warned of risks to energy security as the recent turmoil in the Middle East has driven up international oil prices.
"Oil security is the most important part of achieving energy security," he said, adding that "preparations for alternative energies should be made as soon as possible."