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China to Boost Use of Renewable Energy by Law

A senior official highlighted the importance of renewable energy for China's development Tuesday.

The Law on Renewable Energy, which was approved by the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee in February and will go into effect on January 1, 2006, is an important law for the safety of China's energy and environmental fields, said Gu Xiulian, vice chairperson of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said Tuesday at a workshop on the implementation of the law.

Gu called for developing and utilizing renewable energy in accordance with the law, which is an important step for the country to resolve energy and environmental problems and achieve sustainable development.

In the last 20-plus years of reforms and opening up, China's GDP has been quadrupled, while its energy consumption is doubled only. It shows that China has made remarkable progress in improving the efficiency of energy use, Gu said.

However, she said, China has never avoided the traditional development model of "massive production, massive consumption and massive discharge."

The country still faces the problems such as the shortage of energy resources, the unreasonable structure of energy production, the low efficiency of energy use and serious environmental pollution, she said.

According to official estimates, by 2020, China's energy consumption is expected to top 3 billion tons of standard coal, with its GDP quadrupled and energy use doubled. By that time, the country will face bigger challenges in the supply of energy as its dependence on imported oil is expected to grow.

Gu called for making substantial progress in saving energy, optimizing energy structure and developing renewable energy. Otherwise, the problem of energy safety will become even more serious for China, environmental pollution and ecological damage will bring about greater pressure, featuring further deteriorating energy and environmental situation, which will hamper the sustainable economic and social development in the country.

According to the NPC leader, China is rich in resources for the development of renewable energy, including small hydropower stations and power generation by wind, solar energy and biological energy. But the renewable energy sector is still in an early stage of development.

In 2003, China's renewable energy-based power generation was the equivalent of just 52 million tons of standard coal, about three percent of the country's total power generation. By 2020, it is expected to increase to 10 percent.

Gu urged the government to support the development of renewable energy with preferential policies to help ease the bottlenecked energy supply and make renewable energy a major substitute for coal, oil and natural gas.

According to government figures, in 2004, China produced 1.95 billion tons of coal, consumed 290 million tons of oil, and imported over 120 million tons of oil.

(Xinhua News Agency April 6, 2005)

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