Cau­tion urged for coal-to-gas projects

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By ZHENG XIN zhengxin@chi­

Ex­ces­sive re­duc­tion of coal com­bus­tion might lead to a spurt of de­mand for scarce nat­u­ral gas, so coal-to-gas projects should be im­ple­mented cau­tiously and ra­tio­nally, ex­perts warned.

“Coal con­sump­tion has al­ways been blamed as the ma­jor cul­prit of the no­to­ri­ous air pol­lu­tion, but the rea­son lies in the uti­liza­tion tech­nol­ogy rather than the coal it­self,” said Cao Xianghong, a CPPCC mem­ber and di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Petroleum Prod­ucts and Lu­bri­cants Stan­dard­iza­tion Tech­ni­cal Com­mit­tee for more than 10 years.

“Ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy en­ables clean coal to pro­duce very lit­tle sul­fur con­tent in the emis­sion, and the pol­lu­tant dis­charge of clean coal is on par with nat­u­ral gas,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Cao, China is rich in coal re­sources but short of nat­u­ral gas and oil re­sources. Coal re­sources have been the ma­jor source of en­ergy in the coun­try and will be for the next 30 years, he said.

Re­plac­ing coal with cleaner en­ergy like nat­u­ral gas is a step-by-step process rather than a leap for­ward, he said.

Cities and re­gions across the coun­try are shut­ting down coal-fired boil­ers and power plants, blamed as one of the ma­jor con­trib­u­tors to smog, while re­plac­ing coal stoves with nat­u­ral gas heat­ing to re­duce the to­tal amount of coal con­sump­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the Bei­jing En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Bureau, the cap­i­tal in­vested 1.2 bil­lion ($213 mil­lion) in the city’s coal com­bus­tion re­duc­tion plan, which aims to cut coal con­sump­tion by 600,000 tons a year, sul­fur diox­ide by 1,680 tons and smoke and dust by 1,392 tons.

The plan also aims to shut down more than 300 pol­lut­ing com­pa­nies.

How­ever, Cao said the key lies in the re­duc­tion of the to­tal amount of coal con­sump­tion as well as use of cleaner coal.

“The coal-to-gas projects should be fo­cused on the max­i­mum emis­sion re­duc­tion, and there is no need to re­place the coal with nat­u­ral gas if we can lower the pol­lu­tant emis­sion of the coal,” he said. Gas short­age pos­si­ble

Ex­ces­sive con­ver­sion projects also could cause an abrupt short­age of nat­u­ral gas and se­ri­ously af­fect the coun­try’s en­ergy struc­ture, Cao said.

Re­gard­ing large-scale coal con­sump­tion com­pa­nies and en­ter­prises, Cao sug­gested tech­nolo­gies of den­i­tri­fi­ca­tion and desul­fu­r­iza­tion and in­creas­ing the pro­por­tion of clean coal to fight smog.

The pol­lu­tant dis­charge of a power plant in Zhe­jiang prov­ince, which gen­er­ates elec­tric­ity with cleaner coal, is equiv­a­lent to that based on nat­u­ral gas, he said, so there is no need to shut down such plants or re­place them with nat­u­ral gas.

Stud­ies have shown that the sul­fur diox­ide emis­sion from a ton of coal ex­ceeds the to­tal emis­sion of 100 tons of clean coal con­sump­tion, Cao said.

How­ever, for pri­vate coal con­sumers, like small-scale coal-fired boil­ers and in­di­vid­ual coal stoves, re­plac­ing coal with nat­u­ral gas would be the best so­lu­tion, he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Cao, heavy users of coal, in­clud­ing medium-size and large ther­mal power plants, ac­count for about 80 per­cent of an­nual coal con­sump­tion, while the re­main­ing 20 per­cent is con­sumed by in­di­vid­ual heat­ing or small-scale coal-fired boil­ers.

In ad­di­tion to the use of cleaner coal, ex­perts also sug­gest that key re­gions in China adopt the Na­tional V fuel stan­dard by the end of this year.

Yang Keng, an­other CPPCC mem­ber, sug­gested that all mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, provin­cial cap­i­tals and cities should adopt the new­est stan­dard for fuel, or Na­tional V fuel stan­dard, which calls for sul­fur con­tent of no more than 10 parts per mil­lion.

Ac­cord­ing to the timetable for fuel qual­ity up­grade na­tion­wide, the Na­tional V stan­dard for au­to­mo­bile gaso­line and diesel should be im­ple­mented na­tion­wide by the end of 2017. Re­gions in­clud­ing Bei­jing, Shang­hai and Jiangsu have al­ready adopted the new stan­dard.

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