Science and Technology Daily: Replace Coal by Electricity, Right Now!

One spent a year investigating the causes of the inescapable smog harassing China  and the other devoted to seeking methods to fight against the smog. Though completely strangers, two NPC representatives indentified with each other in their "Proposal One ".

More than a year, the representative Sun Jing has long got used to wearing masks in her daily life except during work.

Once, China was shrouded with annoying haze. North China, East China, Central China, South China, and even Liaocheng, a watertown to the north of Yangtze River where Sun Jing lives, couldn't avoid the invasion of fog and haze.

Since the end of last year's NPC and CPPCC, Sun Jing, the deputy director of the Standing Committee of People's Congress of Liaocheng, visited factories and enterprises for research. She found that a paradoxical equation underlying the industrial and daily living power consumption: "sulfur dioxide emitted from direct combustion of 800 million tons coal equals to that from 1.8 billion tons of coal for power generation, while the former generates smoke and dust nearly three times the amount of the latter."

Enterprises Sun Jing visited incorporate not only high power-consuming enterprises of mechanical processing, textiles, and metal smelting, but also companies related to people's livelihood such as heating companies. Thinking of the above equation, she was surprised, "small private-owned thermal power equipment, industrial coal boilers and other equipment can directly affect the atmosphere. If urban industrial production and residents all use coal directly for heating in the winter, how much emission will there be in the air???

A large number of people are fighting against the smog. Zou Bing, a young worker who has spent ten years in meter fitting and power connection, installing over 6000 meters, and tightening more than 360,000 screws, is also struggling to find a way to fight against the haze.

As a NPC representative, Zou Bing, 35-year-old deputy supervisor of the meter installation and line connection team in Linyi, has more access to firsthand information. He said, "the amount of consumed coal in Shandong is 1/10 of the country's total while air pollution here is extremely serious. Shandong is a key industrial province, which is mainly composed of heavy industry, especially chemical enterprises, and consumes a large amount of power. Besides, Shandong province has a large population. In addition to the air pollution caused by burning coal for heating the ownership of automobiles in the province also ranked first in the country last year. Emissions also worsen the smog."

Shandong is not the only province that is struggling with the siege of smog. Most parts of the country are facing that difficulty as well.

After a year's research and consultation, Sun Jing came up with the "Proposal One": "for industries with high energy consumption and serious pollution, they have to promote the application of new technologies, new products, and new techniques, replace coal and oil by electricity, improve energy efficiency and facilitate energy conservation and emission reduction. "

Though strangers to each other, Zou Bing and Sun Jing both put forward their Proposal One with the same concern on haze.

The "new techniques" mentioned by Sun Jing is what proposed by Zou Bing: to implement electricity replacement in energy production, transmission and consumption as a strategic initiative to transform energy development mode and strengthen environmental protection.

According to statistics, in 2012, China's fossil fuels accounted for more than 90% of primary energy production. Zou Bing suggested to replace fossil fuels by abundant clean energies such as hydropower, wind power, and solar power in energy production.

For a long time, China's over-dependency on coal transportation in energy allocation will lead to repeated appearance of intense coal transportation, and pose a threat to eastern and central regions with low tolerance to pollution. Zou Bing believes that the change from "coal from afar" to "electricity from afar" and transmitting electricity instead of coal can ease the smog in eastern China; moreover, replacing coal by electricity in end consumption and using electricity for industrial boilers, industrial coal furnaces, and residential heating and cooking appliances will significantly reduce direct coal burning. Replacing oil by electricity is to vigorously develop electric vehicles, electrified rail transportations and agricultural irrigation, reducing the dependency on oil.

With more awareness and higher demands on the environment, electricity replacement needs the support from the government, grid companies and market participants. Sun Jing appealed for replacing coal by electricity as soon as possible. (Wang Yanbin )

Source: Science and Technology Daily (March 2, Beijing)

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