BEIJING: The government has formulated a 10-year program under which clean energy will account for 15 percent of the total consumption mix by 2020, a top official has revealed.
To realize the goal, the government will invest billions in the construction of nuclear power stations, wind farms, solar power plants and research of renewable energy technologies, said Zhang Guobao, head of the National Energy Administration.
Zhang told China Daily that the program will soon be made public but did not specify a date.
He also said the National Energy Commission, the apex body set up in January to coordinate energy policy and headed by Premier Wen Jiabao, will hold its first meeting soon.
Zhang forecast a boom in the building of renewable energy infrastructure in the coming five years to meet the goal, which Wen pledged to global leaders at the Copenhagen climate change summit in December. The premier also pledged that the country will reduce its carbon intensity by 40-45 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels.
"Power projects take a long time to be up and running, and we are basically allowed five years to complete them although it is a 10-year program," said Zhang. "Otherwise, the facilities cannot be put into use by 2020."
Official figures show that renewable energy accounted for 9.9 percent of total energy consumption last year, compared to 8.5 percent in 2008. Amid the global financial crisis, the government has decided to develop renewable energy as part of a stimulus package to keep the economy on the fast track.
Last year, groups of researchers, scientists and officials drafted the program under the supervision of Wen and Vice-Premier Li Keqiang.
The National People's Congress, the top legislature, recently passed an amendment to the renewable energy law to require power grid companies to buy all the electricity produced by renewable energy generators.
All these efforts reflect the strategic importance of the renewable energy industry, said Zhang, adding the policy will offer more opportunities for global partners.
"China and the United States have already strengthened cooperation in the regard by launching joint projects and research centers," said Zhang.
US President Barack Obama, in his first State of the Union address, said that "there's no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains, or the new factories that manufacture clean energy products".
"I am quite happy the US has realized our competitiveness in the regard," said Zhang.
However, Zhang is concerned about some disturbing trends.
Last year, China's total energy consumption reached 3.1 billion tons of standard coal equivalent, up 6.3 percent from 2008.
This was in contrast with a previous downward trend when total energy consumption growth declined from 9.5 percent in 2005 to 4 percent in 2008.
But last year, China's economic growth, which stood at 8.7 percent, was the lowest during the past five years.
"It appears that some local governments approved energy-guzzling projects during economic crisis," said Zhang. "So only by fully implementing our energy saving regulations can we realize economic growth with less energy consumption."
Bao Wanxian contributed to the story.