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Energy plan aims at houses, small cars
Updated: 2004-12-06 09:03

Economy cars will no longer be banned from China's high-speed roads, while houses built after 2005 are required to use high-tech, energy-efficient structures, a government body said.

As energy-thirsty China embraces a package of measures to cope with its crippling power shortfall, the country's National Reform and Development Commission, or NRDC, last week released a "guiding document for energy-saving work in the coming 15 years."

The move by the state economic planner is the latest and most comprehensive concerning energy-saving for China. The country is experiencing its worst energy shortage since the late 1980s.

Surging oil prices indicated the failure of China's oil supply to keep up with demand. In the first 10 months of this year, it imported almost 100 million tons of crude. Experts estimate about 40 percent of the year's oil consumption will come from imports.

Private cars are being explicitly discouraged in favor of buses, subways and bicycles. "Big cities will limit cars for their huge consumption of resources," says the plan.

Meanwhile, cars with a engine below 1 liter will be allowed to travel on Beijing's famed Chang'an Avenue and ring roads, said Zhao Jiarong, the department director in charge of resource-saving.

Before, low-powered cars were discouraged in some big Chinese cities. They were not allowed on certain roads for their comparatively slow speed.

China has taken a step forward to reduce petroleum consumption by limiting automobiles. A regulation in October said cars weighing around 1 ton should burn no more than 8.9 liters of petroleum in a 100-kilometer test run. By 2008, the upper limit should further decline to 8.1.

Houses, whose energy consumption will exceed other sectors in the coming years, are targeted as well. Buildings built after 2005 must include high technology and new methods that could save 50 percent of the energy per square meter compared with now, said the plan.

"For example, we will promote central heating systems in residences and public buildings and charge all the inhabitants according to the area equipped in each room," Zhao said.

Construction Ministry statistics revealed that energy-efficient construction in urban China reached 320 million square meters in the past decade and helped reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 23.26 million tons.

Coal, the source of two-thirds of the country's energy consumption, will be primarily used to generate electricity, the plan says. "In coal-fired power plants with de-sulfur dioxide equipment, the utilization ratio of coal is high and the emission of sulfur pollution is reduced."

China's goal is to consume 1.54 tons of standard coal to produce 10,000 yuan of GDP by 2020, 1.14 tons fewer than now. The country will save 1.4 billion tons of standard coal by then, avoiding the emission of 21 million tons of sulfur dioxide, roughly the same amount of current year, he said.

"For a country with one-third of its land suffering from acid rain, soaked in smoke and vehicle exhaust, that figure makes a big difference," he said.

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