Beijing has closed the first of four large coal-fired power plants set to be retired as part of the city's attempts to cut air pollution.
The Chinese authorities plan to shut the last coal-fired power plant in Beijing and replace it with gas-fired plants in 2016 in order to reduce the critical levels of pollution in the city.
The four gas-fired stations will have the capacity to supply 2.6 times more electricity than the coal plants.
Beijing authorities intend to stop the China Huaneng Group 845-megawatt coal power plant in 2016, according to the city’s economic planning agency.
Last week, the city closed the plants owned by local Guohua Electric Power Corp. and Beijing Energy Investment Holding Co. In 2014 the authorities shut down the fourth major coal powered plant owned by China’s Datang Corp.
By 2017 the Beijing authorities plan to reduce coal consumption by 13 million metric t from 2012 levels in order to reduce the poisonous concentration of pollutants in the air.
Nationally, China planned to close more than 2000 smaller coal mines from 2013 to the end of this year, Song Yuanming, vice chief of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety, said at a news conference in July.
The level of air pollution in China was more than double the national standard in 2014 with the indicators of environmental pollution over the limit in 90% of 161 Chinese cities. The level of small particles that pose a danger to human health, averaged 85.9 micrograms per cubic meter in 2014 in Beijing compared with the national standard of 35.
The use of coal started slowing in China as the government made a point of increasing the use of alternative energy sources, such as hydroelectric power, solar and wind. The country is also about to restart its nuclear power program. China aims to bring its share of non-fossil energy to 15% by 2020 and 20% by 2030.
Other measures the Beijing authorities plan to take to reduce environmental pollution include the closure of air polluting enterprises and the reduction of cement production.
China’s been suffering a pollution crisis for decades which has left big cities shrouded in constant smog and half the groundwater contaminated. The pollution from the coal industry alone killed 670 000 people in China in 2012, according to last year’s study by the Natural Resources Defence Council.
Edited from various sources by Joseph Green
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