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The headquarters of the National Development and Reform Commission in Beijing. [Photo/China Daily]
China's ambition to shift to a greener economy is expected to provide more than 2 trillion yuan ($315 billion) in investment opportunities over the next five years for the country's burgeoning energy-saving sector.
That's according to the five-year plan released by the State Council, China's cabinet, to promote the energy-saving and environmental protection industry, one of the country's seven "strategic industries".
Details show the plan is aimed at generating a total output of 4.5 trillion yuan from the energy-saving and environmental protection industries by 2015. Consequently, that's expected to stimulate more than 2 trillion yuan in investment opportunities across the industry, said officials.
Energy saving and environmental protection are two crucial sectors for the development of green economy, the National Development and Reform Commission said in a statement released on Wednesday.
Countries reached consensus at the Rio+20 Earth Summit concluded in Rio de Janeiro last month that the green economy is one of the important tools available for achieving sustainable development.
Many developed countries regard the green economy as an opportunity for a new industrial revolution to stimulate economic development and transformation.
The NDRC said that China must improve its competitive edge to compete internationally by further developing its technologies and infrastructures in the sector.
While the five-year plan provides a big picture for the industry, the definition of energy-saving and environmental protection industries are still ambiguous, which could lead to difficulties in evaluating their performance, said analysts.
An NDRC official close to the plan said energy-saving services refer more specifically to the energy performance contracting service sector.
He added the plan is to incubate 20 energy service companies with an annual output of more than 1 billion yuan by 2015. Energy service companies provide a wide range of energy solutions including designs and implementation of energy savings projects.
Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, said the target is "ambitious", given the existing weak performance of the contracting businesses in China.
The NDRC last month announced it would allocate 2 billion yuan in fiscal funding in 2012 to promote the energy performance contracting service sector and reward companies who performed well in energy conservation.
Meanwhile, the plan also highlights important areas of the sector, including the application of semiconductor lighting, industrial waste utilization, water desalination and the promotion of related technology and infrastructures.
Xie Zhenhua, vice-minister of the NDRC, said recently the nation will invest more than 2 trillion yuan in promoting energy-saving and low-carbon projects by 2015.
There is a potential to save 400 million tons of standard coal equivalent by 2015, which could stimulate investment of more than a trillion yuan, according to the plan.
Investment in sewage and garbage treatment operations, as well as de-sulphuring and de-nitration could exceed 800 billion yuan by 2015.
The output of environmental services could surpass 500 billion yuan during the same period.
The output of the energy saving and environmental protection industries is expected to increase by 15 percent year-on-year through training a batch of green conglomerates with the ability to compete internationally, the report said.
The NDRC official said it is the first five-year plan to be released by the seven strategic industries.