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2010-02-10 16:02:43|  分类: 采访 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Energy problems looming for ever-growing China                               

Editor's Note: China established its National Energy Commission (NEC)recently, indicating that the country is paying more attention to energy security. Will the new commission improve China's energy situation? How should China develop renewable energy resources? Global Times (GT) reporter Li Yanjie talked with Lin Boqiang (Lin), director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, and Guan Qingyou (Guan), a concurrent researcher at the Center for China Study at Tsinghua University, on these issues.

GT: What problems exist in China's energy management system?

Lin: Current energy problems are more complicated than before. In the past, energy problems were only concerned with energy itself, but now energy problems are always linked to the environment and other issues, and thus cause price reform contradictions and other problems.

Therefore it's more difficult to manage energy now. I think the current National Energy Bureau (NEB) performs well so far.

China's various energy and energy problems are also related to different government agencies. Problems concerning environment are under the State Environmental Protection Administration, while if China's energy corporations want to go global, they need the help of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A single government department can't manage it well now.

Guan: The biggest problem is that energy issues are managed by different departments.

The NEC aims at building up a coordinated system among different departments.

GT: What's your ideal energy management department?

Lin: China has established various departments managing energy.

First is the former National Energy Comission established in 1980 and abolished two years later, then there was the Ministry of Energy established in 1988 and abolished in 1993, then the National Energy Office established in 2005, then the National Energy Bureau, and now we have the NEC.

Some of them were dismissed because at that time, they seemed to be unnecessary. Now energy problems are growing complicated and the need for low-carbon development has given energy issues even more importance and complexity.

Guan: Energy is a basic issue for any country and it is related to many enterprises and government departments. That's why China has established and abolished many different energy departments. I think energy issues can't be managed well by a single department. The new NEC is a good choice for China.

GT: Can the new NEC improve the current management problems?

Lin: The new NEC works as a planner and a coordinator to manage cooperation between different government departments. It's been established as a formal government department, showing that China is emphasizing energy and low-carbon development.

Guan: The NEB couldn't manage many issues around energy due to its limited power. The new NEC includes many top leaders of various ministries and thus will perform better, although it can't achieve ideal results.

GT: Will the NEC resolve the contradictions over the price reform of energy?

Lin: The establishment of the NEC will be good for China's energy reforms. The NEB doesn't have the right to set and change the prices of energy, which is determined by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

The new NEC is at a level higher than both NDRC and the NEB in the hierarchy of power, and the NEC includes ministers from all the important ministries that are concerned with energy issues.

A coordinating group will surely make it easy and quick for all concerned departments to work together on this problem. But don't expect that the price reform will be achieved quickly after the NEC was established.

Guan: Price reform is a long-term strategy. For China's energy enterprises, the price system and management system are two major problems. The current monopoly by State-owned enterprises is caused by administrative power.

The State-owned enterprises were not strong enough at the beginning of the reform and opening-up, therefore the government invested a lot of money in them and issued supportive polices.

I don't think splitting up these enterprises would be a good solution and it's impossible under the current situation in China.

A monopoly is not the best choice, but we lack any better solution at the moment. Maybe in the future we can gradually introduce private capital into the energy industry.

Energy problems looming for ever-growing China

·                                 Source: Global Times

·                                 [21:00 February 08 2010]

·                                 Comments

GT: What energy issues does China have to tackle to ensure continued economic development?

Lin: The most important issue for the NEC is to manage the general direction of China's energy strategy. China faces a severe situation when it comes to energy supply.

China owns a large amount of coal, but limited oil and natural gas. Currently, coal is China's major energy supply, accounting for about 70 percent of consumed energy, but coal produces the largest amount of carbon dioxide among all main energy resources.

Due to the limits on carbon emissions, we have to explore other cleaner sources of energy and change China's energy supply structure.

Another crucial problem is that China depends a lot on imported oil. Today 52 percent of the oil is imported and the figure is growing annually. As per capita oil consumption is relatively low at present (only 277 kilos in 2007, one-ten of that of the US that year), and China promoting car sales, the country will probably have to import more oil in the future and its dependency on imported oil will likely exceed that of the US.

That's dangerous, as the US also has massive oil reserves and the changing price in the international market has relatively smaller domestic effect, but China, as a new buyer in the oil market, will have to absorb most of the shock of shifting prices.

The better solution is to use less oil and turn to other energy. The electric vehicles are a good option.

GT: What problems does China face on overseas energy cooperation?

Lin: 2009 saw a good performance of China's enterprises in purchasing overseas energy and cooperating with foreign businesses.

The Sinopec group purchased Addax Petroleum Corp, a Switzerland-based corporation; the China National Petroleum Corporation purchased a Kazakhstan-based company. The two also acquired oil assets in Iraq, the US and other counties.

China's performance is good because the financial crisis makes it easy to bargain.

Further, when oil price were low, these countries also needed money. All these made "going out" much easier. But the good oil fields have all been ac-quired by other countries, leaving only costly leftovers for China.

Guan: The Chinese government and energy enterprises should cooperate more closely on acquiring overseas energy resources.

When a country's dependence on imported energy resources reaches over 50 percent, it will use all its powers and resources to ensure its energy safety, including the safety of its energy transport channels.

I think China's military should play its part. It's good that the NEC has leaders from the Ministry of State Security and the Headquarters of the PLA General Staff , meaning that China is making cross-institutional efforts to ensure energy security.

GT: How do you evaluate China's new energy industries?

Lin: Nuclear power is a necessary choice for China. It's clean and comparatively cheap. Solar power and wind power are relatively expensive and currently subsidized by the government. Hydroelectricity is limited by geography.

Guan: Which types of renewable energy will become the major resources in the future still depends on the market. Clean, convenient and inexpensive energy will be the hallmarks of the future.

Wind power is expensive and unstable; nuclear power costs a lot and poses waste disposal issues and possible safety risks. All renewable energy resources currently have their own shortcomings.

Strict polices on carbon emissions will promote the use of renewable energy resources, but this depends on every country's efforts. China is no exception.

I think in the next 10 to 20 years, renewable energy resources will account for a growing proportion of energy consumption, but fossil energy resources will still be the majority.

In China, many enterprises will try hard to expand their share of renewable energy resources, regardless of what problems this may cause. It's natural, since if they act slowly, it'll be harder for them to enter the market later.

     Source: Global Times                           [ February 08 2010]        

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