BEIJING, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Non-fossil fuels generated 9.8 percent of China’s energy in 2013, up from 9.1 percent the previous year, while coal’s share in the energy mix fell slightly, state media reported Tuesday.
The rise in non-fossil fuels use — which are expected to grow again this year — signals that the world’s biggest polluter is making progress in its clean-up efforts.
China’s former health minister Chen Zhu last week said air pollution accounts for some 500,000 premature deaths each year.
Amid growing concerns over pollution from coal-fired power plants, China has rolled out new policies and invested billions in renewable energy and nuclear power in recent years.
China’s overall energy consumption rose 3.9 percent from the previous year to 3.76 billion tonnes of standard coal equivalent, the state-owned Economic Information Daily said, citing unnamed official sources.
Coal’s share of total energy production fell to 65.7 percent last year, according to the newspaper, and is expected to fall below the 65 percent mark in 2014.
Non-fossil fuels, meanwhile, are set to grow their share to 10.7 percent, it said.
Total energy consumption this year is expected to grow 3.5 percent this year to 3.89 billion tonnes of standard coal equivalent, according to the paper.
Beijing has set a number of targets on greenhouse gas emissions and energy intensity, but a December report to the country’s parliament said faster-than-expected economic growth meant China is lagging on a number of its goals.
Han Jun, deputy director of the State Council Development Research Center, a government think tank, said in Beijing last week that China’s energy use per unit of GDP remains more than twice the global average, and three to four times that of the developed world. (Reporting by Kathy Chen and Stian Reklev; Additional reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Tom Hogue)