Archive for ‘coal’


China to fire up small test nuclear reactor to heat smog-prone north

  • Compact plants proposed to ease pollution but backers must win over wary public
China is exploring the idea of using small nuclear power plants to phase out coal- and gas-fired heating generators in smog-afflicted northern China. Photo: Reuters
China is exploring the idea of using small nuclear power plants to phase out coal- and gas-fired heating generators in smog-afflicted northern China. Photo: Reuters
China plans to build a pilot small-scale nuclear reactor that could replace coal or gas to heat towns and cities in its colder northern regions, an official with the state-owned developer in charge of the project said on Monday.
The small heating reactor was planned for the city of Jiamusi in northeastern Heilongjiang province, one of two proposed units with a combined capacity of 400 megawatts, Wang Xujia, a senior engineer with the State Power Investment Corp, said on the sidelines of an industry conference.
“The project is still under central government review for approval,” Wang said, adding that the developer aimed to put the project into operation by 2024.
China has been exploring the use of small nuclear reactors – less than a fifth of the size of a standard reactor – as alternative heating systems in smog-prone northern regions.
The state provides heating throughout northern China from November to March, using predominantly coal- or gas-fired boilers.
State-owned China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) has already conducted trial runs for a “district heating reactor” (DHR) design, which it says can supply heat to 200,000 urban households.
China-built nuclear reactors may enjoy home advantage as delays and costs stymie foreign competitors
The DHR model consists of a reactor core immersed in a water-filled tank. It is estimated to require investment of 1.5 billion yuan (US$217 million) and take three years to build, making it cheaper and quicker to construct than conventional reactors.

However, while the various designs will use only a fraction of the radioactive material of a conventional nuclear plant, officials acknowledge the biggest challenge is convincing the public the reactors are safe and reliable.

“The planned project in Jiamusi will be located in a remote area of the city which undermines its economic efficiency, but since it is just a demonstration project we just want to complete one first and show it to the public,” Wang said.

China aims to raise total nuclear capacity to 58 gigawatts by the end of next year, but it has not launched any new conventional reactors in more than three years.

China expected to miss target for 2020 nuclear capacity
After Japan’s Fukushima accident in 2011, China conducted a root-and-branch safety review and decided it would only use the most advanced “third generation” technology for any new projects.
However, those technologies – including Westinghouse’s AP1000 and the Areva-developed EPR – have proved to be expensive, complex and prone to long construction delays.
In a bid to broaden its options, the country is developing smaller units and plans to launch its first “small modular reactor” on the island province of Hainan at the end of this year.
China also planned to launch floating nuclear reactors with the aim of developing a fleet of ship-mounted nuclear generators that could be deployed on islands in Southeast Asia, Song Danrong, a reactor designer at CNNC, told Monday’s conference.
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Pilot nuclear reactor may replace coal in north
After brief pause, China rushes to build more nuclear power plants

After brief pause, China rushes to build more nuclear power plants

China General Nuclear Power and rival China National Nuclear plan to build four more reactors on mainland

China General Nuclear Power and rival China National Nuclear plan to build four more reactors on mainland

Under draft rules, nuclear power projects in China will need local support

Under draft rules, nuclear power projects in China will need local support


China Focus: Industrial upgrade moves fast in Xinjiang

URUMQI, March 2 (Xinhua) — Farmers at a small village in western Xinjiang hardly had any days off this winter. Production at a walnut processing factory is going full throttle to meet demand.

Yusup Tursun and his wife are walnut farmers in Kupchi Village in Yecheng County on the edge of the Taklimakan Desert. The couple has been hired by a new walnut processing facility in the village, with the husband a quality inspector and his wife working part-time cracking nuts.

As a main base for walnut production, Yecheng has over 38,000 hectares of high-quality thin-shell walnut groves.

“It used to be quite difficult to sell the walnuts. The factories, with so many products, have made it easier for the sales,” Yusup said.

Seven companies make products from the nuts — walnut milk, walnut candies and edible oil. The shells are made into coloring agent and pollutant-absorbing carbon.

Diversity in the walnut products pushed the industry output to a new high of 2 billion yuan (about 299 million U.S. dollars). Three in every five people work in the walnut industry in Yecheng, where 550,000 people live.

Across Xinjiang, processing facilities are established to add value to agricultural products. Transport and logistical services are improved to boost the sales of Xinjiang’s signature agricultural products such as Hami melons, Korla pears and Turpan grapes.


Xinjiang is also moving up the value chain in two of its traditional industries — cotton and coal.

As one of the main cotton production bases in China, Xinjiang holds sway in the textile industry. By making full use of its cotton resources and geographical advantages as a portal for opening up, the region no longer sees itself as just a production base for raw materials. Starting from 2014, China’s leading garment and apparel makers including Ruyi Group, HoDo Group, and Huafu Fashion Co. Ltd invested in the region and built factories.

These factories have produced added benefits and created jobs for the local people. Xinjiang produces 1.5 million tons of yarn and over 40 million ready-made garments every year. More than 400,000 people work in the industry.

In the eastern part of the coal-rich Junggar Basin, workers have found that the snow is cleaner than before. The Zhundong Economic Technological Development Park, about 200 km west of Urumqi, is home to China’s largest coal field.

A stringent environmental requirement is applied to the park, said Ren Jianpin, director of the management committee of the park. Coal enterprises are required to control coal dust, install equipment to recycle water and coal slags are processed into construction materials, he said.

The park is focused on boosting high-end industries in aluminum and silicon materials, which generate more value and have less impact on the environment, he said.


Last year, a large-scale bio-based plant went into operation in Usu City to turn corn into nylon. The Cathay Industrial Biotech, a Shanghai-based biotech company, is the investor.

Nylon is usually made from petroleum, and the use of crops such as corn and wheat to make recyclable and environment-friendly nylon has promising business prospects, said Wang Hongbo, vice general manager of the company’s Usu branch.

The Usu branch will have an annual output of 100,000 tons of bio-based polyamide, and it is expected to boost the development of downstream industries in the future, he said.

The oil-rich city of Karamay has also received a hi-tech boost as cloud computing firms eye the dry and cold weather in the area. Karamay is home to many key state-level projects and IT-industry leaders, including a global cloud service data center for Huawei, data centers for the China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) and China Mobile.

Xinjiang is making new breakthroughs in precision machining, new materials, manufacturing and textiles.

Data from the regional statistics bureau show that the value added of the hi-tech manufacturing in Xinjiang rose by 32.1 percent year-on-year in 2018.


As a core area on the Silk Road Economic Belt, Xinjiang has maintained solid growth momentum in foreign trade. Foreign trade volume between Xinjiang and 36 countries and regions along the Belt and Road (B&R) totaled about 291.5 billion yuan (43.5 billion U.S. dollars) in 2018, up 13.5 percent year on year.

Economic observers say that there is still much room for Xinjiang to scale up its processing trade to raise the level of imports and exports.

Xinjiang will further develop an export-oriented economy in 2019 and participate in economic exchanges with neighboring countries, according to the regional government’s work report released in January.

Source: Xinhua


China imposes import bans on North Korean iron, coal and seafood – BBC News

China is to stop importing coal, iron, iron ore and seafood from North Korea.

The move is an implementation of UN sanctions, which were imposed in response to North Korea’s two missile tests last month.

China accounts for more than 90% of North Korea’s international trade.

Beijing had pledged to fully enforce the sanctions after the US accused it of not doing enough to rein in its neighbour.

Economic impact

The UN approved sanctions against Pyongyang earlier this month that could cost the country $1bn (£770m) a year in revenue, according to the figures provided to the Security Council by the US delegation.

Although China’s coal imports from North Korea totalled $1.2bn last year, the figure will be much lower this year because China had already imposed a ban in February, experts said.”China has already imported its quota of coal under sanctions for 2017. So no net impact there, and North Korean exports to other countries are minimal,” said David Von Hippel, from the Nautilus Institute -a think tank based in Oregon -who has researched North Korea’s coal sector.

North Korean labourers work beside coal mound near the Yalu River

The sanctions might have more of an impact on iron and seafood, experts said.

Although they are both much smaller sources of export revenue for North Korea, the two industries have seen a rise in exports this year.

Iron ore exports grew to $74.4m in the first five months of this year, almost equalling the figure for all of 2016. Fish and seafood imports totalled $46.7m in June, up from $13.6m in May.

The sanctions do not apply to the growing clothing assembly industry in North Korea.Mr Von Hippel said in gross terms, it is nearly as large as coal, but in reality it is worth much less because North Korea has to import the inputs.

Trade and security tensions

The sanctions come against a backdrop of increased tensions between the US and North Korea, as well as heightened trade tensions between the US and China.

After weeks of heated rhetoric between the US and North Korea, on Tuesday North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has decided to hold off on a strike towards the US territory of Guam, state news agency KCNA reported.

The apparent pause in escalating tensions comes after US President Donald Trump warned of “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if Pyongyang persisted with its threats.

On Monday, the US President Donald Trump ordered a trade probe into China’s alleged theft of US intellectual property, which the Chinese state press saw as an attempt to force China to act more decisively on North Korea.

Officially, the US has denied any link between the two issues, although the president had previously suggested he might take a softer line on China in exchange for help on North Korea.

Source: China imposes import bans on North Korean iron, coal and seafood – BBC News


Shock and ore: Furious with North Korea, China stops buying its coal | The Economist

FEW television dramas boast a plot as far-fetched as the one that has unfolded in North-East Asian geopolitics over the past two weeks. Days after North Korea tested a ballistic missile on February 12th, two women assassinated the half-brother of Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader, by throwing chemicals in his face at a Malaysian airport. The alleged killers said they were duped into taking part, believing the attack was a prank for a TV comedy. Malaysian police suspect that a North Korean diplomat in Malaysia may have been among the organisers, several of whom are thought to have fled to Pyongyang.

Amid such skulduggery, China’s announcement on February 18th that it would suspend imports of coal from North Korea, from the next day to the end of this year, seemed a little mundane. But China’s state-controlled media played up the decision. Global Times, a newspaper in Beijing, said the move would make it harder for North Korea to exploit international differences over the imposition of UN sanctions aimed at curtailing its nuclear programme. China appeared to be signalling to the world that it was ratcheting up pressure on its troublesome friend, as the Americans have long insisted it should.

Or it may just be posturing. On February 21st China’s foreign ministry softened the message somewhat. It said imports were being suspended because China had already bought as much coal from North Korea this year as it was allowed to under the UN’s sanctions, to which China gave its approval last March. But North Korea-watchers doubt that China could have imported its yearly quota of 7.5m tonnes in a mere six weeks. It had not appeared likely to reach its annual limit until April or May. And exceeding that cap had not been expected to matter much to China. In 2016 it imported about three times the permitted amount, using a loophole that allows trade if it helps the “livelihood” of ordinary North Koreans.

Advancing the date of the suspension, if that is what happened, would certainly have sent a strong message to North Korea, which depends on coal exports for much of its foreign currency. Announcing the move so publicly, and unexpectedly, will have shown to North Korea that China is ready to take the initiative instead of waiting to be prodded by America, as it usually does when North Korea offends.

The test of an intermediate-range missile will have rattled China. It suggested that North Korea has learned how to fire such weapons at short notice, from hard-to-detect mobile launchers. The murder of Kim Jong Nam may have been an even bigger blow. Mr Kim had been living on Chinese soil in the gambling enclave of Macau, probably under Chinese government protection. Some Chinese officials may have hoped that Mr Kim, who favours economic opening, would one day replace his half-brother. With his death “you lose one option”, says Jia Qingguo of Peking University. It has reminded China that North Korea’s dictator is doggedly determined to rule in his own way, regardless of China’s or anyone else’s views.

Growing frustration with North Korea is evident in China’s more relaxed attitude towards criticism of its neighbour. In 2013 an editor of a Communist Party-controlled publication was fired for arguing in an article that “China should abandon North Korea.” These days, academics often air that idea. Debate about North Korea now rages openly online, largely uncensored (except when people use it as a way of attacking their own regime, jokingly referred to as “West Korea”). The murder of Kim Jong Nam unleashed a torrent of ridicule towards his country by Chinese netizens. China still sees North Korea as a useful buffer against America’s army deployed in the South. But it increasingly regards the North as a liability as well, says Mr Jia.In America’s court?

China would clearly like its tough-sounding approach to encourage President Donald Trump to rethink his country’s strategy for dealing with North Korea. America has been reluctant to enter direct talks because the North has blatantly cheated on past deals—knowing that China would continue to prop it up. With China more clearly on America’s side, the Americans would have greater confidence, Chinese officials hope. Mr Trump has previously said he would be happy to have a hamburger with Mr Kim and try to persuade him to give up his nukes. The trouble is, Mr Kim sees those weapons as the one thing that guarantees the survival of his odious regime.

Source: Shock and ore: Furious with North Korea, China stops buying its coal | The Economist


China’s top coal province says 29 percent of water unsuitable for humans | Reuters

Nearly a third of the surface water in Shanxi, China‘s biggest coal producing province, is so polluted that it cannot be used by humans, the local environmental watchdog said in a notice on Wednesday.

The Shanxi Environmental Protection Bureau said in a report that 29 out of the 100 surface water sites tested in the first three quarters of 2016 were found to be “below grade five“, which means that pollution levels are so high that the water has “lost functionality”.

China’s water is graded into five categories. Grade three and above is deemed safe for direct human contact, while grades four and five can only be used in industry and agriculture.

While there have been slight improvements compared to the first half of the year, Shanxi is still falling behind its targets, the bureau said.It said 11 sites had shown improvements compared to last year, but eight had deteriorated, including five spots in the major coal-producing city of Datong, which were found to have fallen “below grade five” over the period.

According to the Ministry of Environmental Protection‘s latest analysis of water quality on major rivers published this week, 22 percent of samples from 146 sites nationwide was found to be grade four or worse.

Shanxi produced 944 million tonnes of coal last year, more than a quarter of the national total, and decades of overmining in the province have damaged underground water tables and contaminated ground water supplies.

Source: China’s top coal province says 29 percent of water unsuitable for humans | Reuters


The human and animal costs of India’s unregulated coal industry – BBC News

India is one of the largest producers of coal in the world and more than half of its commercial energy needs are met by coal.

But unregulated mining has caused serious health and environmental issues, and led to growing conflicts between elephants and humans.

In the coal-rich central state of Chhattisgarh, for example, fly ash has caused respiratory problems and serious illnesses like tuberculosis among people, but their troubles don’t end there.

Forests are being cleared for coal mining and wild elephants are entering villages in search of food and attacking people.

Photojournalist Subrata Biswas has documented the fallout of India’s dependence on coal.

“As thousands of acres of forest land are destroyed to mining, foraging elephants attracted by the crops in the fields often enter villages, resulting in an alarmingly high number of human-elephant conflict situations,” says Biswas.

Officials estimate elephants have been responsible for 8,657 incidents of property damage and 99,152 incidents of crop damage in Chhattisgarh between 2005 and 2014.

Image copyrightSUBRATA BISWAS

“We were sleeping when the elephants broke into our room. Somehow we managed to escape but I fractured my left leg when a large part of the wall fell on my leg. My husband saved my life,” says Rujri Khalkho, 70, whose home was damaged by a herd of wild elephants almost a year ago.

A compensation of 10,000 rupees ($149; £114) has not been enough to repair her house or pay for her medical care.

Image copyrightSUBRATA BISWAS

Deaths of elephants due to electrocution have become common in the state.In Dharamjaigarh, the most affected area, officials have recorded 30 elephant and 75 human deaths so far.

Image copyrightSUBRATA BISWAS

In 2009, Kanti Bai Sau, 40, lost her home and farm to an open-cast coal mine.

She was promised compensation of 200,000 rupees ($2,980; £2,290) and a job to a family member, but received neither. Her son died last year of respiratory complications.

“There is no fresh air to breath, fresh water to drink. Coal has usurped everything here.”

Image copyrightSUBRATA BISWAS

“We lived next to this mine for almost 10 years and watched helplessly as our wells went dry, forests disappeared and fields become unproductive,” says Girja Bai Chauhan.

“We have lost almost eight acres of our fields to the mine and authorities haven’t fulfilled a single promise they made while acquiring land. They sent us into a dark future and unhealthy environment to live and breathe in.”

Image copyrightSUBRATA BISWAS

Pipelines carry fly ash slurry from a local thermal power power plant in Korba to a fly ash pond.

Environment activists say that every year approximately 50 million tonnes of fly ash is generated by power plants in Chhattishgarh but not even the half of this amount have been reutilized to reduce the pollution from fly ash.

Fly ash is known to contain trace elements such as arsenic, barium and mercury among others, and unlined ponds like this could be polluting groundwater by leaching.

Image copyrightSUBRATA BISWAS

“The ash is everywhere. When the wind blows, everything is coated with a layer of white grey ash. The road, ponds, our houses, sometimes even our spectacles get coated with a fine layer of the ash,” says Biswas.

Image copyrightSUBRATA BISWAS

Rohit Rathia, 55, suffers from tuberculosis.He lives in a village next to an open cast mine where lung diseases such as coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP), silicosis and tuberculosis have become common ailments.

Source: The human and animal costs of India’s unregulated coal industry – BBC News


The perils of peace in China’s commodity industries | The Economist

WHEN the number of strikes plummets, something significant is usually going on. Strikes in China’s mining, iron and steel industries have fallen from more than 40 in January to four a month or fewer between May and August, according to China Labour Bulletin, an NGO based in Hong Kong. The explanation seems to be that China is backtracking on plans for the restructuring of state-owned firms in these sectors.

In February the government announced that it would redeploy 1.8m people, or 15% of the workforce, in the bloated and debt-laden coal, iron and steel industries. Just after that, a huge strike over unpaid wages by coal miners in the north-east dramatised the risks of trying to force through massive lay-offs and plant closures. So local officials have dragged their feet. According to the national planning authority, in the first seven months of the year provincial governments achieved only 38% of their full year’s targets for coal production cuts.

Fear of unrest is not the only explanation. Commodity prices have rebounded slightly this year, so local authorities are playing a game of chicken, keeping mines and factories open and hoping the neighbours will close theirs, so they themselves will be the ones to gain from higher prices. China itself is not benefiting.

Source: The perils of peace in China’s commodity industries | The Economist


China to replace direct coal combustion with electricity in new plan | Reuters

China will reduce the amount of coal burned directly in industrial furnaces and residential heating systems in order to tackle a major source of smog, the country’s energy regulator said on Wednesday.

The National Energy Administration (NEA) said in a joint announcement with other government bodies that around 700 million to 800 million tonnes of coal is burned directly in China every year, much of it in the countryside, where access to electricity is limited.

Directly burned coal amounts to about 20 percent of China’s total coal consumption volume, much higher than the 5 percent rate in Europe and the United States.

China will aim to replace direct burning with electricity, including renewable power as well as ultra-low emission coal-fired generators, the NEA said.

China currently relies on coal for around 64 percent of its total primary energy needs and for three-quarters of its total power generation. Emissions from the direct combustion of coal are around five times higher than those from coal-fired power plants, which are subject to strict anti-pollution regulations.

During the 2016-2020 period, China plans to raise electricity’s share of the country’s overall energy mix to 27 percent, up about 1.5 percentage points from now and raising total power consumption by around 450 billion kilowatt-hours a year, the NEA said.

Experts have estimated that China will need an additional 600 GW of coal-fired power capacity over the 2015-2030 period in order to replace direct coal combustion.

Source: China to replace direct coal combustion with electricity in new plan | Reuters


China Bans Some New Coal Power Plants – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China Bans Some New Coal Power Plants A coal-fired power plant in Shanxi, China. Beijing has announced a ban on new coal plants in areas with surplus power supply.

Beijing has announced a ban on new coal plants in areas with surplus power supply.

China’s government is banning construction of new coal-fired power plants in areas with surplus power supply, a move that could weigh on already-struggling coal markets. As WSJ’s Brian Spegele reports:

The new measures outlined Monday by China’s top economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission, underscore the central government’s deep concern with overcapacity across China’s economy, a result of weakening industrial demand as growth slows.

Beijing has previously said it aimed to curb thermal power overcapacity; analysts said the fact that it now came from an official NDRC communiqué was the clearest signal yet that it won’t tolerate new coal capacity in regions that already have excess supply.

Weaker demand for coal inside China could ultimately lead to higher exports, which would exacerbate the huge supplies of coal sloshing around global markets. The higher supplies could drive down global benchmark prices and hit the bottom lines of major U.S. and international coal producers.

The global commodities downturn has proven particularly tough on global coal companies. St. Louis-based Peabody Energy Corp. and Arch Coal Inc. are among the large U.S. miners to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy protections in recent months. The U.S. sector has shed 31,000 jobs since 2009.

Source: China Bans Some New Coal Power Plants – China Real Time Report – WSJ


Coal-fired plants in Beijing on way out with new ban|Society|

Beijing will ban new coal-fired thermal power plants after the four existing ones are expected to be replaced by gas-fired plants by 2017, according to the municipal economic planner.

The replacement is being made in an attempt to reduce coal consumption to achieve better air quality.

“The closure of the coal-fired power plants will greatly improve air quality, considering that 22 percent of air pollutants are from coal consumption,” said Zhang Wangcai, deputy director of the Beijing Development and Reform Commission’s Energy Bureau.

Two gas-fired thermal power plants have been operating since October and have reduced coal consumption by 3.95 metric tons annually, he said.

Beijing has also restricted coal consumption by companies and households for heating in the past two years by supplying them with gas or other cleaner fuels instead.

“By the end of this year, we will reduce coal consumption by 8 million tons,” Zhang said, adding that a reduction of 7.1 million tons has already been achieved.

Li Xiang, deputy head of atmospheric environment management at the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, said the reduction of coal consumption at the two power plants has been a major reason for the better air quality in the capital in the first four months of this year.

She said people in the capital have seen a distinct improvement in air quality in the first four months, during which there were 57 days when the quality was better than the national standard – eight days more than during the same period last year.

The concentration of PM2.5 – air particles of 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter that can penetrate the lungs and harm health – has been lowered by 19 percent and the number of days with serious pollution reduced by 42 percent year-on-year.

On Thursday, authorities launched efforts to reduce air pollution in support of the bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Zhang said the government will make further efforts to reduce emissions of air pollutants, including restricting coal consumption as planned, which will further improve air quality.

In addition to the two thermal power plants already operating, another will start working in July and a fourth will be ready to operate in November next year, he said.

By 2017, Beijing will have all its power generated by clean-energy gas, and coal consumption will be cut by 9.2 million tons annually – the equivalent amount used for the four coal-burning thermal power plants.

Gas consumption will increase to 24 billion cubic meters in 2017, of which 98 percent will be supplied through a variety of channels including foreign countries, Zhang said, adding that Beijing consumed 11.3 billion cubic meters of gas last year.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection released the list of air quality in April in the 74 major cities on Monday.

In April, seven of the 10 cities with the worst air pollution were in Hebei province, but the region of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province has witnessed a clear improvement in air quality, said Luo Yi, head of the ministry’s Environmental Supervision Bureau.

The PM2.5 concentration in the region has been reduced on average by 18.3 percent year-on-year and was 16.3 percent lower in April than in March, he said.

via Coal-fired plants in Beijing on way out with new ban|Society|

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