China sets up first renewable-energy think tank

Updated: 2012-02-24 13:21

By Du Juan (China Daily)

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BEIJING - China has established its first national think tank on renewable energy to conduct research and develop programs and policies, as part of the country's effort to deal with climate change and carbon emissions.

The China National Renewable Energy Center, launched on Thursday, will also draft industry standards and carry out international cooperation programs.

The center was established by the National Energy Administration with the support of the National Development and Reform Commission.

The center also draws on previous cooperation with Denmark, which established a renewable development program in 2009. The Scandiavian country is providing financial and technology support for the center.

"In China, developing policies and strategies for renewable energy is a complex task because government leaders have to weigh all aspects to ensure that it will benefit the entire country," said Wang Zhongying, head of the center.

"That is not to say that our government doesn't have the courage to make policy. Rather, a strong think tank can provide solid research to support policymakers," said Wang, who is also the deputy head of the Energy Research Institute under the NDRC.

In 2011, installed generation capacity of "clean energy" - hydropower, nuclear, wind, solar power and biomass - accounted for 27.5 percent of the nation's total installed electricity generation capacity, up 0.9 percentage point year-on-year, said Sun Yucai, vice-president of the China Electricity Council.

Sun made the comment during the 2012 China Power & Clean Energy Expo on Thursday in Beijing.

The tiny increase indicates that there's been slow progress so far in renewable energy development for the 12th Five-Year-Plan (2011-15).

Hydropower generation capacity stood at 230 million kilowatts, 21.8 percent of the total.

For nuclear, the figure was 12.57 million kW (1.2 percent), while for wind power it was 45 million kW (4.3 percent), according to Sun.

"We have to build up a system of policies and management that can serve the industry better", said Liu Qi, deputy head of the NEA.

"The successful experience of the European Union and the United States proves that to set up a national organization to conduct research and manage the industry is necessary and beneficial for its long-term development."

The new center has a steering committee and management committee composed of government officials and a consultant committee with scientists, experts and analysts from China, Denmark, the US and Spain which specialize in wind, solar and biomass energy.

The center will focus on four major aspects of renewable energy: estimates of the potential for offshore wind power, biomass energy, solar power and the grid integration of renewable energy.

Universities, companies and local governments can seek advice from the center for renewable energy programs, according to Gao Hu, the center's deputy director.

China has signed agreements with Denmark related to the new center, and will also pursue cooperation with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the US and energy agencies in Spain.

Friis Arnen Petersen, ambassador of Denmark to China, said the center's opening was a breakthrough in China's road to green growth.

Denmark has donated 100 million krone ($17.9 million) to support bilateral work in renewable energy, said Sun Yuanjiang, deputy director of the international department of the Ministry of Commerce.