ESA Plays Its Part in Protecting China’s Environment
ENVIRONEMENT S. A. (ESA) is a French company specializing in con - tinuous environmental monitoring. Founded in 1978 by company CEO François Gourdon, and listed in 2006, ESA has established branches in 65 countries, and is thriv ing. “China’s huge growth potential prompted us to set up a branch here, Environement China L td., at the end of 2009, al - though we launched our China operations in the late 1990s, with the assistance of a local distributor,” Environment China Ltd. CEO Fabienne Rond said.
ESA is a leader in the development and installation of systems monitoring and measuring airborne pollutants, particulate matter, and noxious gas emissions, including dioxin. Its equipment is installed mainly in the chimneys of incinerators, power plants and other combustion facilities. The company won the bid for monitoring station construction projects in Beijing prior to the 2008 Olympics.
Pollution a Grim Challenge
Decades ago, when low- end manufacturing shifted to China, the country gradually became “factory of the world.” This development mode, however, engendered the side effects of industrial and air pollution and other environmental issues.
“I think the Chinese people and their government fully understand the gravity of the situation. In the past three or four years the government has issued new guidelines on raising environmental standards and broadening the scope of monitoring and measuring to include different types of gases, as well as new geographic and business areas. China clearly takes this issue very seriously. In the past six months to one year, the gov-
ernment has significantly accelerated its pace in this regard,” Rond said.
Air quality and control of industrial emissions have become the leitmotif of China’s environmental policies since Beijing and other Chinese cities became blanketed in dense smog. “We have the equipment and devices to measure air quality and emissions, and the Chinese government is willing to take steps to curb pollutant emissions. That creates a benign market for us. We have seen more opportunities in recent years, for example, in the monitoring of VOCs ( volatile organic compounds), both in the air and in emissions. China also plans to equip certain areas with sensors that, although less precise than monitoring station analyzers, cover wider areas and monitor the same parameters, including PM 2.5,” Rond said.
Particulate matter of a less than 2.5 micron in diameter is a serious concern to the Chinese government due to the serious health risk it constitutes as a likely cause of cancer, respiratory disorders, cardiovascular disease and low life expectancy.
A Booming Market
Greater environmental protection awareness has brought with it a surging demand for monitoring and measuring equipment and devices. “We have two types of customers: companies that need emission monitoring systems and government departments that need air quality monitoring systems. As regards the latter, the central government urges local governments to publish air quality data, so creating the need for provincial, municipal and county-level governments to build air quality monitoring and measuring stations that then call for tenders,” Rond said.
Rond went on to elaborate on the progress China has made in air quality monitoring. “In the past, only three parameters were measured in China – PM 10 (particulate matter of a less than 10 micron diameter), sulfur dioxide and nitric oxide. Since 2012, PM 2.5, ozone and carbon dioxide have been added to the mandatory parameters monitored by fixed monitoring stations.”
“As to emissions monitoring, the Chinese government rolled out one year ago more new stipulations on lowering the emission ceilings on nitric oxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter in combustion facilities, especially power plants. We can now enter the power plant industrial emissions monitoring market because the precision requirements are higher, and our devices meet this need,” she added.
Competition from Chinese Companies
General awareness in China of the pollution issue has also pushed the government to support Chinese companies’ development of monitoring and measuring equipment, and to make innovations in this area.
For example, the central government recommends that government procurement should give precedence to 100 percent “Made in China” equipment if its price and quality are same as that of a foreign bidder. “This requirement is not mandatory. However, it is accepted and put into practice in certain cities and regions where the budgets are normally smaller. As it is difficult for foreign companies to gain a share in the equipment maintenance market, we are trying to build partnerships with Chinese companies taking part in tenders,” Rond explained.
Chinese companies currently participate in the market by importing and selling foreign-made equipment or importing and installing foreign-made key components in their own- brand equipment, so reducing costs, according to Rond. “Chinese companies are also striving to develop their own products,” Rond concluded.
Fabienne Rond is the CEO of Environment China Ltd.
A Shanghai Thermal Power Energy Co.,Ltd. combustion plant.