We’ve been covering Beijing’s growing air pollution problem for some time now, as the city fights to decide between coal power and its growing energy needs.
The problem with coal power is that it is easy, practically just laying there, ready to burn. It also happens to be one of the dirtiest fossil fuel sources in the world, at least from the standpoint of harmful emissions, such as soot, oxides of nitrogen and sulfur, and carbon dioxide, of course. Beijing, the capital city of China, has been suffering from record-breaking emissions, much like other bustling cities in the country, a major health risk for all concerned, not to mention climate change impact.
China has gone so far as to ban cars and air traffic on certain days, even resorting to shutting down hundreds of coal-fired street barbecues, but they’ve been ignoring the elephant in the room, coal power. Given that Beijing’s air pollution averaged twice that of the rest of the country, Beijing has the most to gain from the elimination of coal power from its power mix. By the end of 2016, when China Huaneng Group Corporation’s 845 MW plant is shut down, all four of her coal power plants will be decommissioned, to be replaced by four natural gas power stations.
Tian Miao, a North Square Blue Oak Limited research analyst, based in Beijing, says that coal utilization will be cut by over 10 million tons annually, resulting in a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of 33 million tons. After the four new natural gas power plants come online, they’ll produce 2.6 times more power than the old coal power plants did. To start, China expects to reduce national coal consumption by 14.7 million tons by the year 2017. Still, China gets 64% of its energy from fossil fuels, so cutting coal is a good start. Hopefully, these aren’t those coal-powered natural gas plants we wrote about before.