Under the scorching June sun, a team of workers in Jincheng, a city in north China's Shanxi Province, has been working around the clock to build a methane recovery and utilization plant for power generation.
Jincheng Anthracite Mining Group's new coalbed methane power plant -- attached to the Sihe coal mine -- has a designed generating capacity of 120,000 kw and is scheduled to begin operation in August 2007. It will be the largest of its kind in Asia when it is completed.
The clean technology power plant will each year transform 180 million cubic meters of methane gas into 720 million kwh of electricity.
The project has attracted the attention of foreign companies keen to locate emission reduction projects in developing countries so that they can receive credit in the form of "certified emission reductions", or CERs. The CERs can then be deducted from their own national reduction targets.
The CER system is part of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) created by the Kyoto Protocol. China signed the Protocol in 1998.
According to Li Tianshun, from Jincheng Anthracite Coal Group, the company has received US$150 million of funding from a number of foreign organizations through the CER mechanism.
Dubbed the sea of coal, Shanxi is China's most coal-rich province. Coalbed methane reserves are estimated at one billion cubic meters, one third of the national total.
But the methane resources have been little exploited to date. The same is true for low-heat fuels such as gangue which have been accumulating at an annual rate of 30 million tons, said Pu Fangqin, planning section chief of Shanxi Provincial Coal Industry Bureau.
Pu said negotiations were underway for 60 CDM projects but so far only 20 had been approved -- mainly involving coalbed methane recovery and the utilization of coking furnace gas.
"We have to transform the Chinese coal industry. We want to build more clean coal plants, big coal dressing plants with an annual production capacity of at least 1.2 million tons. We want to invest in recycling. And we want to close small plants that produce less than 300,000 tons," said Pu.
He said that, in the years to come, Shanxi would develop 14 recycling parks focused on optimizing the coal utilization rate, adding value and reducing pollutant emissions.
(Xinhua News Agency June 6, 2007)