China plans to clean up coal

04 April 2007

As part of China's huge power plant build program, planners have decided that over 500 small thermal power plants will be closed down to be replaced by larger and cleaner versions.

Fossil-fired power plants generate about 72% of China's 622 GWe capacity, with hydro at 25% and nuclear power around 3%. In a bid to reduce the impact of fossil fuels, the National Development and Reform Commission has made policies to shut down many small (less than 100 MWe) thermal power plantsduring the 11th five-year plan (2006-2011). 10 GWe in shutdowns willcome in 2007.

Some of the newer plants will be allowed to be converted to use biomass fuels or to provide heat as well as power to increase overall efficiency, although a proportion of these units would still be required to shut down earlier than originally planned.

In addition, all newly built coal plants would be required to have desulfurization scrubbers fitted. The 65 GWe of new coal capacity currently under construction will be required to include scrubbers, removing at estimated 2.2 million tonnes of sulfur dioxide from potential emissions. There would be fines for coal plants not employing the technology.

The nuclear component of the 11th five-year plan includes ten new nuclear reactors at Haiyang, Shandong province; Hui'an, Fujian province; Hongyanhe, Dalian in Liaoning province; Hongshiding, Shandong province; and Tianwei, Lufeng in Guangdong province. By 2020, Chinese leaders would like 4% of electricity to come from nuclear.

It is the NRDC's aim to "develop natural gas, hydo power, renewable energy, new energy andother forms of clean energy" and "reduce the share of coal in energy consumption, greatly develop clean coal and thermal power central heating technology."

Further information

National Development and Reform Commission

WNA's Nuclear Power in China information paper