Development and formulation of China’s biomass energy policy

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The soaring energy price will directly affect the country’s economic growth and sustainable social development. In recent years, the price of crude oil has skyrocketed and remained high, resulting in an increase in economic development and social operating costs. Considering the high price of traditional petrochemical energy and the external cost of pollution control, the development needs of bioenergy are more urgent. The development of a diversified energy market is conducive to ensuring national energy security, energy conservation and emission reduction, and the smooth operation of the economy. In response to changes in the international situation and China’s energy development needs, since 1995, the state has issued a series of policies related to renewable energy, laying the foundation for China’s energy structure adjustment and bioenergy development.

In 1995, the State Planning Commission, the State Science and Technology Commission and the State Economic and Trade Commission formulated the “1996-2010 New Energy and Renewable Energy Development Outline”, which clearly proposed to accelerate the development and industrial construction of new energy and renewable energy in accordance with the requirements of the socialist market economy.

In 2000, the State Economic and Trade Commission promulgated the “2000-2015 New Energy and Renewable Energy Industry Development Plan”, which systematically analyzed the basis of China’s new energy and renewable energy industrialization development, market development potential, expected benefits and development constraints.

In June 2002, the “Cleaner Production Promotion Law of the People’s Republic of China” put forward the concept of cleaner production. The so-called clean production refers to continuously taking measures such as improving design, using clean energy and raw materials, adopting advanced technology and equipment, improving management, and comprehensive utilization, and requires reducing pollution from the source, improving the efficiency of resource utilization, reducing or avoiding the generation and discharge of pollutants in the process of production, service and product use, in order to reduce or eliminate the harm to human health and the environment. At the same time, tax incentives and product catalogs and standards for clean or unclean production have been formulated.

In 2005, the “Renewable Energy Law of the People’s Republic of China” was promulgated, which proposed to increase energy supply through the development and utilization of renewable energy, improve energy structure, ensure energy security, protect the environment, and achieve sustainable economic and social development.

In 2006, the Outline of the National Medium- and Long-Term Science and Technology Development Plan (2006-2020) was released, proposing to give priority to the development of renewable energy and biotechnology in the energy field.

In 2007, the report of the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China called for “building an ecological civilization, basically forming an industrial structure, growth mode, and consumption model that saves energy resources and protects the ecological environment. The circular economy has formed a large scale, and the proportion of renewable energy has increased significantly. The discharge of major pollutants has been effectively controlled, and the quality of the ecological environment has been significantly improved. The concept of ecological civilization is firmly established in the whole society”, and “Strengthen energy and resource conservation and ecological environmental protection, and enhance the ability of sustainable development. The construction of a resource-saving and environment-friendly society must be placed in a prominent position in the development strategy of industrialization and modernization, and it must be applied to every unit and every family. It is necessary to improve laws and policies that are conducive to saving energy resources and protecting the ecological environment, and accelerate the formation of sustainable development systems and mechanisms. Implement the responsibility system for energy conservation and emission reduction. Develop and popularize advanced and applicable technologies for conservation, substitution and recycling, develop clean energy and renewable energy, protect land and water resources, build a scientific and rational energy and resource utilization system, and improve energy and resource utilization efficiency.”

In July 2007, the Ministry of Agriculture issued the “Agricultural Biomass Energy Industry Development Plan (2007-2015)”, and the development focus includes rural biogas, crop straw energy utilization (straw solidified molding fuel, straw gasification fuel, energy crops). By 2015, it is planned that the total number of household biogas households in rural areas will reach about 60 million, and the annual biogas production will reach about 23.3 billion cubic meters, and the annual utilization of straw solidified molding fuel will reach about 20 million tons, and built about 2,000 centralized gas supply stations for straw gasification with an annual output of 730 million cubic meters of straw gas.

In September 2007, the National Development and Reform Commission announced the “Medium and Long-Term Development Plan for Renewable Energy”, which proposed that by 2010, China’s renewable energy consumption should account for 10% of the total energy consumption, and 15% in 2020. Renewable energy technology and equipment capabilities based on its own intellectual property rights, realize the energy utilization of organic wastes, and basically eliminate the environmental pollution caused by organic wastes. The annual utilization of biomass solid briquette fuel will reach 50 million tons, the annual utilization of biogas will reach 44 billion cubic meters, the annual utilization of non-grain fuel ethanol will increase by 10 million tons, and the annual utilization of biodiesel will reach 2 million tons.

In October 2007, the “Energy Conservation Law of the People’s Republic of China (Amendment)” was promulgated, which pointed out to improve the basic system of energy conservation, organically combine market regulation with government management, enhance the pertinence and operability of the law, improve the energy-saving standard system and supervision system, and increase policy incentives.

In March 2008, the National Development and Reform Commission issued the “Eleventh Five-Year Plan for Renewable Energy Development”, pointing out that the development of renewable energy has become an important way to alleviate the contradiction between energy supply and demand, reduce environmental pollution and increase farmers’ income. Accelerating the development of hydropower, biomass energy, wind power and solar energy and increasing the proportion of renewable energy in the energy structure are the primary tasks of China’s renewable energy development during the “Eleventh Five-Year Plan” period.

In August 2009, the “Renewable Energy Law Amendment (Draft)” was reviewed and approved. Several important revisions of this draft include: China’s renewable energy power generation will be fully subsidized by the government, and the management of on-grid tariffs for renewable energy power generation will be further improved. The state establishes a renewable energy development fund in the nature of a government fund, and the sources are the special funds arranged by the state for the fiscal year and the levied renewable energy electricity price surcharge. The draft also refines the full guaranteed purchase system for renewable energy power generation: relevant state departments are required to formulate annual acquisition targets and implementation plans for the national renewable energy generation capacity to determine and announce the minimum quota targets for the full guaranteed purchase of renewable energy generation capacity that should be met by power grid enterprises; power grid companies should acquire on-grid electricity from renewable energy grid-connected power generation projects that are not lower than the minimum quota.

In November 2013, Premier Li Keqiang of the State Council proposed three basic principles for new urbanization at the China-EU Urbanization Partnership Forum: first, we must put people at the core and focus on quality urbanization; second, respect the wishes of farmers, protect their legitimate rights and interests, and ensure food security; third, be intensive, low-carbon, and live in harmony with humans and nature. Industry experts generally believe that the above three principles also bring opportunities for the development of biomass energy.

On June 13, 2014, President Xi Jinping emphasized at the sixth meeting of the Central Financial and Economic Leading Group that based on the domestic diversified supply and security, vigorously promote the clean and efficient utilization of coal, focus on the development of non-coal energy, and form an energy supply system driven by coal, oil, gas nuclear, new energy, and renewable energy.

In November 2014, the “Energy Development Strategy Action Plan (2014~2020)” (hereinafter referred to as the “Action Plan”) issued by the General Office of the State Council proposed: “By 2020, the proportion of non-fossil energy in primary energy consumption will reach 15%, and the goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 40%-45%” is to ensure that this goal can be achieved. The “Action Plan” also deploys the active development of transportation fuel substitution, and strengthens the research and demonstration of advanced biomass energy technology. Focus on the development of a new generation of non-grain fuel ethanol and biodiesel, as well as a series of technology research and development and demonstration projects such as microalgae oil production. At the same time, the “enhancing energy independent guarantee capability” and “promoting the transformation of urban and rural energy use mode” proposed in the “Action Plan” also provide a guiding plan for the energy supply of China’s energy revolution and rural urbanization. In particular, it is pointed out that efforts should be made to optimize the energy structure and vigorously develop biomass energy and renewable energy.