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'Renewable' Becomes New Energy Priority

China has established developing renewable energy as a basic national policy and a new law is being created to provide legal support to developing it.

The State Development and Reform Commission (SDRC) completed the draft and expects to submit it for review to the Environmental Protection and Resources Conservation Committee of the National People's Congress, the country's top legislative body, next month.

Renewable energy refers mainly to water, wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and marine-based energy.

According to the draft, development and utilization of renewable energy will be government-driven but with strong encouragement of market forces. Encouragement will be given for capital, regardless of its source, to be injected into the industry.

Priority will be given to developing renewable energy in rural and remote areas to meet the lifestyle and work needs of the local people.

Advantageous loan and tax policies will also be implemented to attract enterprises to invest.

The draft highlights the importance of environmental protection, arguing that pollution and ecological damage must be prevented during the process of development.

While China has made substantial progress in the development of renewable energy, it still lags behind developed countries and even some developing nations such as India and Brazil, said Xu Dingming, director of the Energy Bureau of the SDRC.

"Effective policies and legal systems must be formulated. This will identify the strategic status of renewable energy in the growth of the national economy and ensure the rapid development of related industries," Xu said.

Existing regulations and policies have sometimes been obstacles, he added.

Xu pointed out that legal support can promote the rapid growth of the nation's energy industries and help improve the energy structure. It must play an increasingly important role in the nation's sustainable economy.

Energy demands are rising on a yearly basis and may double after 2020. However, China still depends mainly on coal for its energy supply, which has caused severe environmental pollution.

Experts estimate that even if all the coal resources in the country are explored and exploited, it can only sustain another century's energy demand.

China has abundant wind energy that can be vital to solving the country's energy issue, Green Peace said in a research report it issued in conjunction with the Europe Wind Energy Association and China Renewable Industry Association.

The report, named Wind Force 12, predicts that China's wind energy reserves will surpass the total amount of its current power generation in future decades. It forecasts that by 2020, wind-generated electricity may reach 14 percent of the global wind energy output.

(China Daily May 17, 2004)

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