China’s Hebei province fights air pollution

  • Coal being replaced by gas, coal-fired boilers dismantled
  • Efforts are expected to reduce coal consumption by 5.3 million tonnes a year

Hebei, an industrial province in northern China that surrounds Beijing, has launched multiple programmes to control pollution and conserve energy. Shijiazhuang, its capital city, has initiated ten projects targeting three heavy-polluting industries, namely thermal electricity, steel and cement, as well as vehicle exhaust and a variety of dust sources, in an effort to improve air and water quality. Renovating and eliminating polluting factories and equipment form the main part of the effort.

Residential buildings in Shijiazhuang, capital of China’s Hebei Province. The province plans to renovate more than 50 million sq m of floor space for energy-efficiency and promote the use of new-energy vehicles (photo credit: Corbis Images)

More specifically, the municipal government plans to dismantle all 623 coal-fired boilers in the city within two years, shut down or refit nearly 400 building material manufacturers and phase out 180 cement mills by the end of November. Part of the plan also includes replacing large coal-fired stoves at 719 restaurants in urban areas and 90 in suburban areas with ones using clean fuels, including gas, and installing global positioning systems (GPS) on more than 900 construction waste trucks to prevent dumping of refuse outside of approved sites. All these efforts are expected to reduce coal consumption by 5.3 million tonnes a year.  

The Shijiazhuang municipal government has invested 8 billion yuan (about US$1.3 billion) in these projects this year. The city is a major consumer of coal, with poor air quality as evidence of the effects. “We will strive to make the air quality in our city meet China’s Grade II standards within two to three years,” says Sui Ruibin, Standing Member of the Hebei Provincial Committee and Secretary of Shijiazhuang Municipal Committee. “To improve air quality, the first step is to change our energy utilisation structure by reducing the use of coal and increasing the use of gas,” says Shijiazhuang mayor Jiang Deguo.

The municipal government has allocated pollution control tasks across several governmental departments. The Shijiazhuang Food and Drug Administration, for example, is responsible for replacing the coal-fired stoves at the 719 restaurants mentioned. So far, 661 restaurants have been refitted, with the rest to be completed by end of last month.

Shutting down polluters

Neiqiu, a county within Xingtai, another large city in the province, has also carried out aggressive measures this year, including shutting down or relocating heavy-polluting factories. Up to now, nine of the larger factories in the county have drawn up plans for comprehensive control of pollutants.  A local chemicals plant, Kingboard Chemical, recently kicked off a 30 million yuan project, in which the company will modify and upgrade its equipment for coke oven de-dusting and its flue gas desulfurisation facilities. The project is expected to improve the flue gas collection rate to above 97%, the dust resistance rate to above 99% and the desulfurisation rate to over 80%, reducing sulphur dioxide emissions by 360 tonnes a year. Longhai Steel has initiated a programme to upgrade its biggest blast furnace hopper and shaft furnaces in a move to reduce dust and flue gases. Several companies have simply shut down their blast furnaces. 

At the provincial level, the government has approved and issued the “Hebei Province 12th Five-Year Plan for Energy Conservation and Emission Reduction”. By 2015, the province aims to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions per GDP unit by 19% as compared to 2010 and reduce carbon dioxide emissions overall by 165 million tonnes through the deployment of ten specific projects. High energy-consuming and heavy-polluting factories will be the key target of these projects. 

Residential space

Residential buildings are also included in these energy conservation projects. The province plans to complete renovating more than 50 million sq m of floor space. It will also promote the adoption of 20 million energy-efficient lights and lighting fixtures along urban roads and in factories, of energy-efficient flat-panel televisions, washing machines, refrigerators, inverter air-conditioners and new-energy vehicles by individuals, and of high-efficiency motors, fans, power transformers, single unit air-conditioners and air compressors by factory owners and operators.

Finally, on the energy production side, in a move to generate more renewable energy and reduce dependence on traditional energy sources, Hebei has been promoting the wind power industry across the province. As at end December 2011, the industry had a total installed capacity of 5.8 GW, up 29% from a year earlier and ranking the province third in China. Hebei targets a capacity of 10 GW by end 2015.  – Nanjing Shanglong Communications