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China will become the world's energy laboratory for decades to come, as the country continues to create a greener economy, experts said at the Chengdu Fortune Global Forum on Friday.
"The transition from fossil fuels to green energy will take decades, but we can start with something such as natural gas," said Sun Simin, chairman of the Asia Clean Energy Innovation Initiative.
He said that China and the United States have already launched cooperation projects to facilitate such a goal. For instance, some major State-owned enterprises are importing liquefied natural gas from the US to benefit from the low energy prices caused by the shale gas revolution in the country.
Matt Fox, executive vice-president of exploration and production at ConocoPhillips, said that his company is also helping bring LNG from Australia to China, in cooperation with China National Petroleum Corp.
The imports are to meet increasing energy needs amid the continuously expanding economy, which is expected to nearly double between now and 2020.
China accounts for 20.7 percent of global energy demand, and China's energy consumption is growing four times faster than the rest of the world, according to a report compiled by Dupont.
"China's growth in energy consumption will profoundly reshape the global energy market in coming years, by boosting energy prices and stimulating scientific innovation across the energy sector, from fossil fuels to renewable energy," the report said.
But in the process, China will still be heavily dependent on fossil fuels in the foreseeable future.
China depends on coal for about 80 percent of its electricity generation. Such dependence carries heavy environmental costs: Environmental degradation, pollution, and associated health problems cost an estimated 11 percent of China's annual GDP, according to a report by the Lawrence Livermore National Lab.
"The government is very much aware of the issue and is taking the people's discontent on board in setting future policies," said Felix Zhang, executive director of Envision Energy Ltd.
He said the distributed power generation system introduced by the National Development and Reform Commission was a good example and is a further step towards more energy efficiency.
"We're also working with the authorities on some pilot programs, and the government is still trying to find out the most efficient way to implement them," he said.
"Major Chinese energy companies such as Shenhua, Huaneng and State Grid have used their State funding and own resources to develop biofuels, shale gas and smart grids," the Dupont report said.