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China's energy development is shifting from 'quantity first' to 'quality first': expert

The mindset for China's energy development is changing from "quantity first" to "quality first," with top priority given to clean, low-carbon, safe and highly efficient new energy, instead of just ensuring energy supply, a Chinese energy expert said on Thursday.

With the economy in the midst of a new normal of growth, China's energy development is witnessing a slowing consumption growth speed and a general easing of supply and demand, among others, said Xu Xiaodong, deputy president of China's Electric Power Planning & Engineering Institute.

"The growth rate of energy consumption is low ...the major driver for energy consumption is shifting from energy-intensive heavy industries to emerging industries, commercial and residential uses," he said at the sidelines of the ongoing CERAWeek, an annual international gathering of energy industry leaders, experts, and government officials in Houston.

In 2016, China's total primary energy demand was 4.4 billion tons of standard coal, up 1.4 percent from 2015, remaining at a relatively low level in recent years, he said.

During China's energy transformation process, the share of non-fossil fuel grew to 13.5 percent in 2016, up 1.4 percentage points from 2015, while the share of coal dropped by 1.7 percentage points.

Impacted by the reductions in coal and oil production, China's total energy production decreased in 2016 for the first time since 2000, with national total primary energy production at 3.5 billion tons of standard coal, 4.2 percent lower than that in 2015.

Xu stressed that China's energy supply structure is improving, with non-fossil fuel accounting for 16.7 percent of the total energy mix in 2016, 2.2 percentage points higher than 2015, and the share of coal on the supply side dropping by 2.5 percentage points.

China has become the top country in the world for hydro, wind and solar installations, he added.

Xu noted that China's overall energy efficiency was 73.7 percent in 2016, 0.02 percentage points higher than 2015. Efficiency for coal-fired power was 44.7 percent, coking was 92.2 percent and oil refining was 97.6 percent.

Over the past three years, China has made great progress regarding energy efficiency, capacity utilization, cost, clean development and energy security.

He also said that the "China Energy Development Report 2016," the first of its kind, will be released later this month and provides an overall analysis of China's energy development during a crucial year for the country.

The 36th annual energy IHS CERAWeek conference, organized by London-based consultancy IHS Markit, opened here on Monday under the theme "Pace of change: building a new energy future."

The event has brought together at least 3,000 delegates, including energy ministers, from more than 60 countries to discuss the most pressing industry issues, state strategies and policies.

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