Beijing Closes Last Coal-Run Power Plant, Moves to Clean Energy

By Justine Lopez, March 20, 2017

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Beijing officially shut down the last large coal-fired power plant in the city on Saturday, South China Morning Post reports. The move is part of the capital’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions and reduce air pollution. 

In front of a group of photographers, the power plant shut down its final generators over the weekend. And just like that, Beijing became the first Chinese city to rely solely on cleaner energy sources – including natural gas and wind farms – to generate electricity and heating.

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The power plant is located in a suburban area in eastern Beijing and was responsible for providing heating to a 30-million-sqm area in southeastern Beijing. It was responsible for burning over eight million tons of coal annually. By burning such a vast amount of coal, the plant released hundreds of tons of harmful pollutants – such as sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide – into the air every year. 

"Replacing coal with clean energy is not only to deal with air pollution but also a requirement of the company's transformation," said Cai Qi, Beijing's mayor. 

According to Cai, a new power plant is currently being built and will rely only on natural gas. Shutting down the power plant will reduce coal consumption by 1.76 million metric tons a year and cut sulfur dioxide emissions by 91 tons. 

The move is part of the capital’s efforts to curb its reliance on coal, which contributes significantly to its air pollution problem. Beijing previously vowed to reduce coal use by 13 million tons by the end of this year. Now that the final four large-scale power plants have been shut down, the capital has successfully cut its coal use by 8.56 million tons.

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