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IEA's Birol underlines nation's role in renewables

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-04-22 09:35
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Technicians check solar panels in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province. [Photo by YAO FENG/FOR CHINA DAILY]

PARIS-Demand for renewables is set to increase in all key sectors this year and China, which "alone accounts for about half of the increase in global renewable electricity generation," will continue to play a critical role, the International Energy Agency's executive director said.

"We expect this year the share of renewables in the world electricity generation will come to 30 percent, the highest in history. This is mainly the result of the achievements in a few countries but China's role is critical," said Fatih Birol.

In its Global Energy Review 2021 released on Tuesday, the Paris-based IEA, the global energy policy adviser, noted that electricity generation from renewables is set to leap by more than 8 percent this year, accounting for more than half of the increase in overall electricity supply worldwide.

The biggest contribution to that growth comes from solar and wind, projected to rise by 18 percent and 17 percent, respectively, from last year-both on track for their largest annual rise in history.

"It is excellent news that the renewables are growing very strongly, driven by China, but also followed by the United States, Europe and India," said Birol, a Turkish economist.

With global economic recovery leading to a rebound in energy demand, global energy demand is set to increase by 4.6 percent this year, led by emerging markets and developing economies, the IEA said.

"We are seeing significant growth of the economies," said Birol. "China is the first country where we have seen the lockdown measures lifted, and the first economy that started to run. Then we are seeing strong economic growth from China, highlighting the resilience of the Chinese economy.

"We expect this year the Chinese economy will increase about 9 percent, which is good for China, but also good for the rest of the world."

Predicting a steady increase in global energy demand in coming years, Birol stressed that clean energy technologies should be used as much as possible "in order to see economic growth, prosperity", and not do harm to "the environment."

As the largest developing country still in the stage of industrialization and urbanization, China has the right to development and also shoulders the responsibility of improving people's livelihood.

Meanwhile, as an important contributor to adopting the Paris Agreement, and an active participator in implementing it, China has the determination and ambition to tackle climate change.

The country has vowed to peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

The extensive shift would certainly pose a challenge to the country's customary economic development model. The IEA chief said: "China's success story in renewables, especially solar, wind and hydropower, is a critical and very important part of reaching Chinese climate targets."

Birol said China takes the climate change as a serious challenge and is paying a lot of attention to international collaboration.

He welcomed the online summit of China, France and Germany on Friday, during which the leaders of the three countries will highlight the importance of working together.

"One of my messages (at the summit) will be the critical importance of international collaboration among countries, so that all the major economies can work effectively and closer together, to have innovation in the clean energy sector," Birol said.

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