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China ahead of schedule to close small coal power plants
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China shut down small coal-fuelled power plants with a total generating capacity of 54.07 million kilowatts from 2006 to the end of June this year, an energy official said Thursday.

The authorities were 18 months ahead of schedule in their goal to close 50 million kilowatts of coal-fuelled generating capacity by the end of 2010, said Sun Qin, deputy director of the National Energy Administration (NEA) at a press conference.

Because of the closures, the average coal consumption by plants had fallen by 30 grams to 340 grams a kilowatt, which equated to 160 million tonnes of coal saved since the beginning of 2006.

Sulfur dioxide emissions were down by 1.06 million tonnes a year, and carbon dioxide emissions by 124 million tonnes annually, said Sun.

The proportion of generating units with capacity above 300,000 kilowatts rose to 64 percent of the total plants in operation by the end of June, up 20 percentage points from the beginning of 2006, while those with a capacity below 100,000 kilowatts dropped to 14 percent, down 16 percentage points.

Sun said the country has allocated more than 2 billion yuan (292.8 million U.S. dollars) from the central budget since 2006 to enterprises and local governments involved in small thermal power capacity closures.

These funds were used to help power generation plants re-deploy workers, train laid-off staff, and restructure. According to an initial estimate, the closures involved 400,000 workers nationwide.

"Although the move to eliminate high-energy-consumption small coal power capacity faced great difficulties, the government has done a good job as a whole," Sun said.

(Xinhua News Agency July 30, 2009)

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