Interview: China International Summit

Posted on 4 April 2013

Interview by Monique Tsang

The World Energy Council will be holding its China International Summit this month.  WEC Secretary General Christoph Frei explains what participants should expect.

Why is the WEC holding this event in China at this time?China -  busy commercial street at night

People are extremely interested in China.

China is undergoing a major transformation. It has the world’s fastest growing and the biggest energy demand, and it has some of the most exciting technology stories.

China is in the midst of many critical developments in the global energy picture. It has a very long-term energy policy agenda, and this is interesting from the WEC’s trilemma perspective.  There is a lot of discussion about China’s renewable energy future.  There is also the shale gas story – the question here is whether China will be the next USA when it comes to shale gas.  China is also buying a lot of gas from Russia.

 

The WEC held a World Energy Leaders’ Summit in Beijing in 2010.  What’s new in the upcoming event?

There have been many energy developments in China since 2010 and we’ll look at all those issues.

A decade ago, nobody was talking about shale gas.  But now, not only has the issue climbed to the top of the global energy agenda, China also thinks it may be able to replicate the success of the US shale gas revolution.  At the same time, a huge gas pipeline is being constructed connecting China to Russia, which is already feeling threatened by the shale gas revolution.  What will the future hold for shale gas in China?

Meanwhile, although there are uncertainties in the Chinese renewables sector, China still has a world-leading renewables industry.  With the recent big smog in Beijing putting environmental and air pollution concerns on top of the government’s agenda, this could underpin the growth of the Chinese renewables sector.

And this year China has a new government.  We’re very keen to see what the mood is, and what the new government will do to address all those issues.

The whole WEC China International Summit will focus on the energy ambition of the new Chinese government. We want to understand, within all the big-picture developments, whether there is a change or refocus of ambition within the new government.

Christoph Frei

How supportive has China been for the WEC?

The Chinese government has been very supportive of the WEC over the years. The support has come from the highest level, from the National Energy Administration (NEA).   Furthermore, China’s State Council, in its energy policy white paper published last year, has highlighted the WEC as one of the few major international organisations that it collaborates with. [Read the English version here.]

Our event will be co-hosted by Mr Zhang Guobao, Chairman of the China Industrial Overseas Development and Planning Association (CIODPA).  Mr Zhang is also former vice-chair of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the former administrator of the NEA.

Having these strong signals of support from the Chinese government is very important to us.

China is thinking about positioning itself in the international governance context. That’s one of the issues we want to discuss informally at our WEC event. We’d like to better understand what the opportunities are for us to better align ourselves with the opportunities in China.

 

What are you hoping to achieve at the China event?

We want to provide Chinese experts with the opportunity to tap into our knowledge via our flagship studies, on policy trilemma, scenarios, and resources.  At the same time we also want to ensure that we maintain strong links with these experts.  This is not only for our flagship studies but also for the many exciting stories going on in China.  It’d be great to bring those stories to the Congress, to make sure they’re told, and to get them the deserved attention.

 

 Who will participate in the event?

There will also be a good mix of experts from China and overseas.  We will have experts from leading Chinese universities and institutions such as the Energy Research Institute, the NDRC think-tank. We will also have representatives from government and from the Chinese and China-based private sector.  The State Grid Corporation of China will be there, so will CEOs from CLP, Korea Electric Power Corporation, GDF Suez, and Hess Corporation, to name a few.  We will have top executives from utility and gas companies plus many leading experts covering all the issues we’ve discussed earlier.

 

WEC China International Summit will take place in Beijing on 24–25 April 2013.