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China pushes use of clean energy yet coal remains crucial
( 2003-11-17 21:41) (Xinhua)

China is increasing the use of clean energy in realizing sustainable economic growth, said a senior official Monday.

The country is streamlining its energy makeup to diversify from dominant traditional coal with electricity, nuclear energy, oil and natural gas, said Jiang Weixin, vice minister of the State Development and Reform Commission (SDRC), at an international seminar on energy strategy and reform Monday.

China will be able to realize its economic growth in the next 20 years by using half of the energy that developed countries had used if it adopts a proper energy policy, according to a SDRC blueprint on energy strategy.

The consumption of coal took up 66.1 percent of China's total energy use in 2002, down from 76.2 percent in 1990, while hydropower increased from 5.1 percent to 7.8 percent and oil up from 16.6 percent to 23.4 percent, SDRC figures showed.

Meanwhile, 53.5 percent of coal consumption went to produce electricity in 2002 instead of being directly burnt for daily use, up more than 25 percent on the figure 12 years ago.

The SDRC said the country's energy consumption would be equal to 3.2 billion tons of coal in 2020, some 3.5 times that of 2000, and 1.94 billion tons of carbon would be emitted into the air if the present energy framework continued.

The figure would be reduced by 25 percent if a sustainable energy policy is adopted to introduce clean energy and increase the efficiency of power use, the blueprint said. Reproducible energy consumption is expected to double by 2020, it added.

"The restructuring of energy makeup is pushed forward by the need to protect the environment," said Liu Shijian, a senior SDRC official.

By 2020, China aims to reduce all indices for pollution by 30 to 60 percentage points from 2000 figures. The growth of gas emissions is expected to remain less than 60 percent in the next 17 years.

The Chinese people have long used coal as fuel for cooking and heating in daily life and the low efficiency of the fuel led to severe air pollution.

About 75 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions in the air has resulted from burning coal, according to environment authorities.

However, coal will continue to be a crucial energy for China in the future, Jiang said.

Being a cheap energy, coal is vital for China to live on its own energy supply instead of imports, he said.

More efforts will go to developing environment-friendly use of coal, said Fan Weitang, president of the China Coal Industrial Association (CCIA).

"Coal can be a clean energy," he said. Some 90 percent of sulfur in coal can be removed with use of proper technologies.

Besides introducing clean energy, economic energy use is a key issue, Liu said, adding that China's energy use is fairly inefficient, leading to huge waste.

Every 10,000 yuan of gross domestic product (GDP) cost 2.63 tons of coal in 2002, down from 7.98 tons in 1980.

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