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Powering-up new energy mix

06-01-2011 11:20 BJT

BEIJING, June 1 (Xinhuanet) -- China has abundant reserves of new energy resources and there is great potential for their larger-scale development.

Due to the continuous advancement of the country's new energy technologies, the rising costs of fossil fuels and the country's commitment to reducing carbon dioxide emissions, new energy will play a growing role in China's energy consumption structure.

However, whether or not new energy can become a genuine substitute for traditional energy sources in the future will be largely decided by their development costs, the degree of their technological maturity and their effects on the environment.

China has abundant reserves of new energy resources and there is great potential for their larger-scale development and utilization. The country's usable capacity of wind, solar, ocean and biomass power can amount to hundreds of millions of tons of standard coal every year. This huge potential, together with the nation's sophisticated new energy technologies - even compared to that of developed countries - means that China's development and utilization of new energy can be further expedited.

Based on its total economic and social development needs, its future energy demands, and its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, China is poised to raise the proportion of its nuclear, wind, solar and hydro power, the main part of its new energy composition, to 15 percent in its primary energy consumption volumes by 2020. It plans to raise the proportion further to 20 percent by 2030 to make new energy one of its mainstream energies.

To achieve this target, China should strive to make some essential breakthroughs in the development and utilization of new energy during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) period.

As a crucial step toward this end, China should first accelerate its pace of nuclear power development and strengthen its nuclear power safety system. Compared with other new energy sources China already possesses mature nuclear power technologies, a high-intensity and high-efficient energy that can become a stable source for its ever-increasing power needs.

To realize the goal of raising the proportion of non-fossil power to 15 percent in its total energy consumption by 2020, China should accelerate its exploitation of nuclear energy and hydropower. This task is particularly urgent in view of the long - usually about five years - construction cycle, as well as the current technological limitations in the development of other new energy sources.

However, the nuclear leaks in Japan following the destructive 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami have sounded an alarm for the industry and China will need to tighten the safety management and monitoring of its growing nuclear power sector.

China should also try to popularize the development and utilization of solar and thermal power. The country is now the world leader in solar and thermal power technologies and in their development scale. Solar and thermal power are also technologies in which China owns intellectual property rights.

However, the low industrial concentration degree, together with the lack of quality guarantees and after-sale services, has seriously affected these sectors' steady and healthy development. This demands increased support to promote their concentrated development. China should rectify and standardize the solar-heater market and encourage the consolidation of the industry in a bid to improve both the technology and the product quality. Also more measures should be taken to make solar power technologies a safe, stable and reliable energy for architecture.

More active efforts are also required to stabilize the country's land-based wind power generation and further develop offshore wind power. To facilitate the wind power strategy laid out in the country's 12th Five-Year Plan, China should step up the creation of industrial standards for this sector to standardize the manufacturing of domestic air-blowers and improve their quality.

Besides, effective measures should be taken to boost the development of the domestic photovoltaic (PV) power generation market. China's PV power volumes have ranked No 1 in the world for consecutive three years and the industry now serves as one of the country's new strategic industries that can sharpen its international competitiveness.

However, the long-standing slow consumption demand in the domestic market has slowed its further development. To develop from being a producer to being a big consumer, China not only needs to strengthen the construction of domestic intelligent power grids, it also needs to learn from the experiences of Japan, Germany and the US in this area.

China should also push forward the development of its biomass and geothermal power industries and try to develop and popularize the use of electricity-fuelled vehicles and their technologies.

The authors are with the Institute of Finance and Trade Economics under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: Xinhua

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