Powering-up new energy mix

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.

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