"Coal is a good thing and of course can be used in a clean way," said Ling Wen, president of China Energy Investment Corp and also a member of the CPPCC, on the eve of the country's annual political gatherings early March.
Ling Wen is taking an interview on the sideline of the CPPCC
"Last year, for a time, it was irrational to blindly chase non-coal consumption, which cost China to be more dependent on imports of oil and gas," he said. "Coal is actually regarded as clean energy if well used."
Facing the fact that oil and gas resources are in shortage and coal resource is plentiful in China, he appeals for "making a big difference" in the coal sector. "Whether the energy is clean or not isn't from what it is but how much it emits."
He pointed out that China has made great progress in the sector these years, not only at the aspect of safety – the death rate per million-tonne coal slumped by 71.7% in 2017 from five years ago, but technologies of coal use in a clean manner.
Presently, the technology of low emissions in coal-fired power generation has been so mature in China, with its emission indicators of dust, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide lower than burning natural gas.
Ling Wen introduced Chinese gas emission standard of natural gas stands at 5 mg/m3. "More than 70% of coal-fired power plants can reach the standard, and all plants will realize it by 2020."
"Our group now have far outreached the standard and sets the target at 1 mg/m3, one fifth of the national natural gas standard."
"The national sulfur dioxide emission standard of natural gas is 35 mg/m3," he added. "In fact, most plants can do that. Our goal is 10 mg/m3." "The natural gas's nitrogen oxide emission standard is 50 mg/m3, but coal-fired plants are ordered to emit below 20 mg/m3."
Now, coal burning for power generation represents 40-50% of the total coal consumption in China.
The country's coal-fired power sold to power grids is only 0.36 yuan/KWh, plus with the costs of low emission technology, he introduced, "compared to 0.7 yuan/KWh of gas-fired power."
He also revealed by 2020 China's all coal-fired plants will adopt new emission standard, under which major indicators of dust, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide will reduce to 5% of the level in 2013.
"It's unnecessary to 'turn pale at the mention of coal," he said. "We have the confidence to make the sky blue again."
(Writing by Alex Guo Editing by Harry Huo)
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