A small beginning for emissions control


China Daily, 7th January 2008

By Zhang Qi

Energy savings and emissions control are priorities for China, and initial emissions targets have already been met.

Just a week ago, the National Development and Reform Committee (NDRC), China's top economic policy-making body, said that it has closed down power generation capacity of 14.38 million kW, with the demolition of 553 small heavily polluting thermal power units, 44 percent more than the 10 million kW target set for last year.

"Phasing out small thermal power plants is the most effective way to meet the government's goal of cutting 10 percent of energy consumption per unit of GDP and 20 percent discharge of key pollutants between 2006 and 2010," says Huang Shengchu, president of China Coal Information Institute (CCII).

The reduced electricity will be generated by larger power generating units, which are more energy efficient and can cut 18.8 million tons of coal consumption, 290,000 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and 37.6 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).

"The intensity of energy savings and emissions control depends on the size of thermal power generation units, so it is very meaningful to slash small thermal power plants," says Hao Weiping, a senior energy official from NDRC.

To generate the same amount of power, small power units consume between 30 to 50 percent more coal than large, energy-efficient units.

For example, a larger power generation unit with a capacity of 600,000 kW may consume 300 grams of coal per kWh of electricity it generates, while 50,000 kW-sized units need 430 to 450 grams, Hao says.

China's power industry is an energy guzzler when it comes to coal consumption. In 2006, it consumed 1.2 billion tons of raw coal, accounting for nearly half of China's coal use that year. Small thermal power plants consumed half of the coal used by China's power industry, but only contributed 30 percent of electricity.

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