China's power corporations should develop their clean energy in a bid to improve the air quality nationwide, attendees concluded on Wednesday at the 2013 China Power Summit in Beijing.
The 2013 China Power Summit kicks off Wednesday at the China National Convention Center in Beijing. The three-day summit includes nine sub-forums regarding the smart grid, solar photovoltaic energy, solar thermal energy, wind power and bio-energy.[Photo/China.org.cn]
Serious smog has choked the Beijing skies many times this year, leaving the city's residents suffering from the astonishingly bad air quality. "Several factors have contributed to Beijing's lingering smog," said Zhang Guobao, former vice chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission and former head of the National Energy Bureau, during a keynote speech at the 2013 China Power Summit. "The primary factor is the exhaust emission across the city; the other one is the burning of coal, most of which stems from coal-fired power plants," he added.
"It is unbelievable that there are four thermal power plants within Beijing's urban areas," said Zhang. He explained that these plants would still cause pollution problems despite possessing advanced technologies to reduce carbon dioxide emission and being equipped with desulfurization facilities.
"Last winter, I saw a layer of black coal dust caused by industrial and civil heating on the snow's surface after a storm," said Jiang Minhua, general manager assistant of China Huaneng Group. He continued, "The environment and energy efficiency would be greatly improved if we used the combined heat and power (CHP) strategy." (Combined heat and power, also known as cogeneration, is the simultaneous production of electricity and heat from a single fuel source such as natural gas, biomass, biogas, coal, waste heat or oil.)
Xie Changjun, deputy general manager of China Guodian Corporation, expressed his opinion on the development of China's power sector by saying that overextending the thermal power would stand in stark contrast to social development. "The pollution problem will always be there, no matter what advanced technology the thermal plants apply," said Xie.
He pointed out that China's power sector could not further develop without thermal power, but the country should devote more effort to developing its clean energy generation, including hydropower, wind power, nuclear power as well as solar power. People used to discard wind power and describe it as "waste power." "We would [rapidly] become outdated in the future if we kept ignoring [the issues of] clean energy and the environment," he said.
On a more encouraging note, Zhang also noted that China has recently experienced a rapid growth in the field of clean energy generation: a total of 6.0662 trillion kWh power generated by clean energy was consumed in China last year, accounting for 21.4 percent of the total power integrated into the power grid, which has in turn increased by 3.9 percentage points compared to the same period of 2011.
Despite such rapid growth, China's energy structure still needs to be further optimized, Zhang added. "The promotion of clean energy is not merely a matter of economy or technology; it concerns the mission of 'building a beautiful China'," he explained.