South China's Guangdong Province is stepping up efforts to keep sulphur dioxide emissions under control and to minimize the effects of acid rain.
Much of this year's attention will focus on the desulphurization work of 10 coal-burning thermal power plants, according to Chen Jianhui, deputy director-general of the Guangdong Economic and Trade Commission.
The 10 plants include the Shajiao Power Plant in Dongguan and the Huangpu Power Plant in Guangzhou, both of which release large quantities of sulphur dioxide.
Chen said the province will earmark 6 billion yuan (US$725 million) for the comprehensive desulphurization of thermal power plants in the coming "few years" but he did not give a specific time frame.
Acid rain has taken a heavy toll on economic development in Guangdong and the fight against it is no easy task, he noted.
Official statistics indicate that acid rain causes economic losses of more than 4 billion yuan (US$483 million) annually. Thermal power generation is to blame for 66.8 percent of the sulphur dioxide emissions that cause acid rain in the province.
Some 1 million tons of sulphur dioxide emissions were released last year. Seventeen Chinese cities, most of which are located in the Pearl River Delta region, are particularly affected by acid rain and account for 63 percent of the land area in Guangdong.
Chen said the provincial authorities have been working on 33 projects to cut sulphur dioxide pollution since early 2000 and only eight of them have been completed.
The province will have to shoulder an even heavier burden as new thermal power-generating units are to be put into operation in cities such as Shaoguan, Taishan and Zhuhai, he said. They are expected to release another 480,000 tons of sulphur dioxide by the year 2005.
The provincial authorities have been busy mapping out policies ranging from raising charges payable for sulphur dioxide emissions and setting up special funds for desulphurization to giving priority to buying electricity from plants that do well in desulphurization.
According to Yuan Zheng, director-general of the Guangdong Provincial Environmental Protection Administration, using only quality fuel for thermal power generation, limiting the establishment of new thermal power plants and enhancing sulphur dioxide emission fees will be effective measures in the province's desulphurization work.
Coal and oil with a sulphur content that surpasses 0.8 per cent should not be used for thermal power generation unless desulphurization measures are taken, he suggested.
The authorities should refuse to approve the establishment of small fuel-combustion thermal power plants with a generating capacity that is equal to or lower than 125,000 kilowatts, Yuan added.
No fuel-combustion thermal power plants should get approval to start operating before they are equipped with desulphurization facilities, he said.
(China Daily April 16, 2003)