GENEVA, March 23 (Xinhua) -- A World Economic Forum (WEF) expert lauded China's reforms in the energy sector over the past ten years as the country grapples with the growing energy challenges engendered by the country's booming economy.
"Over the decade, China's energy consumption has naturally grown to power the strong economic growth which makes the energy transition both crucially important and challenging," Espen Melhum, head of WEF's Knowledge Integration and Energy Industries, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.
"The country has solved challenges of energy access through electrification and the government has embarked on an impressive energy reform track that is starting to deliver results," he added.
ALL ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY
WEF Global Energy Architecture Performance Index Report 2017 ranked China 95th out of 127 countries in terms of its provision of affordable, environmentally friendly and secure sources of energy.
While China's standing has remained stable, Melhum stressed that energy systems "are slow to change," and that reforms "will not necessarily impact index scores from one year to the next but over longer periods of time."
WEF also noted that China's case is symptomatic of larger energy consumers amid "inherent challenges of their large, complex energy systems" which are outperformed by nimbler economies.
Despite this, Melhum highlighted that China ranks first in terms of its diversification of import counterparts, adding that Beijing has greatly improved access to secure energy sources for the country's vast population.
FOCUS ON RENEWABLES
While acknowledging that more needs to be done to improve the sustainability of Chinese energy sources, Melhum noted that Asia's economic powerhouse has also significantly increased its reliance on clean energy sources such as renewables and nuclear-derived energy.
Melhum predicted that these concerted efforts "will pay off over time," and that air pollution and China's reliance on coal stand to be reduced across the country as a result of these pragmatic policies.
This proactive stance towards environmental challenges is also matched by China's continued commitment and engagement to global energy research and development.
"Among the technology areas that China could help spearhead that can have significant global relevance are carbon capture and utilization, electric mobility and energy storage," Melhum said.
"Focus on improvements of energy intensity and carbon intensity through energy efficiency targets and measures as well as development of a nation-wide carbon market with international linkages hold the potential to have cross cutting positive impacts in China and beyond," he added.