Wen Jiabao: Chinese renewable energy share tops 11 per cent

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao today insisted the country is working “vigorously” to advance clean energy, but insisted fossil fuels are not going to be phased out any time soon.

Wen told the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi that China has increased its share of renewable energy to 11.4 per cent in 2011, compared to 8.4 per cent in 2010.

The increase puts the country on track to meet its ambitious five-year plan, which also includes a target to deliver a 17 per cent drop in energy intensity by 2015.

Wen added that China’s hydropower capacity hit 200GW in 2011, making it the planet’s largest producer of hydro energy. He also argued that the 47GW of wind energy and 3GW of solar power capacity added over the past 12 months make China the world’s fastest growing renewable energy market.

The country, which is about to become the world’s largest consumer of coal-derived electricity, has made great strides in cutting fossil fuels usage, Wen insisted. He stated that China last year cut coal consumed per kWh of electricity generation by 10 per cent and energy use per tonne of steel produced by 13 per cent.

“We are gradually changing the current energy mix dominated by coal… and slowly increasing the mix of natural gas and clean energy,” he said.
But he added that, while renewable energy sources “hold great potential for development”, he called on the world to make energy conservation and efficiency its number-one priority in the power sector, rather than focus on entirely decarbonising economies.

“Fossil fuels will continue for a long time,” Wen told delegates at the conference. “So we need to follow a low-carbon approach to carbon-intense technologies.”

This will include more nuclear power, alongside natural gas, Wen said. It will also rely on a “revolution of science and technology”, backed by government and private sector partnerships aimed at accelerating cleaner fossil fuel demonstration projects.

Wen also expressed concern that energy commodity prices have deviated from supply and demand, aggravating the volatility of the global economy.
He called for the G20 group of countries to establish a governance committee bringing together suppliers, producers and transit countries to “safeguard” prices in the future.

Wen’s speech came as Chinese state media reported the country is set to build a 300MW offshore wind farm near Puti Island in the northern Hebei province.
The Xinhua news agency said the facility is likely to be approved by the end of the year and be complete in 2015. It forms part of government plans to construct 5GW of offshore wind by the middle of the decade

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