Despite all the talk about renewable energy in China, coal is likely to remain king for some time.
That explains why French engineer Alstom has purchased
Qingdao Sizhou, a Chinese company that makes “bottom ash handling
systems,” which are a critical element of the coal-fired power stations.
Let's hope that the French owner is not just out to a fast buck in
China and can leverate the deal to push new technologies to make
China's coal-fired plants more efficient and cleaner.
While there are exceptions, such as the Waigaoqiao II plant
equipped by Germany's Siemens, the vast majority of China's
coal-burning power stations are not technologically sophisticated and
remain highly polluting.
For example, the latest generation of integrated gasification
combined cycle (IGCC) plants are significantly more efficient and
produce less waste. But China currently has no IGCC plants, largely
because they are much more expensive to build.
Although coal's share of China's primary energy mix is projected to
drop from 70% to 59% by 2030, booming demand for electricity will still
see China burn twice as much coal then as it does today.
As China's cheapest and most secure energy resource, it is
inconceivable that coal will not remain the nation's primary
electricity generating source for the foreseeable future.
The challenge, then, for western businesses should bis to encourage
China to switch to newer “clean coal” technologies that are more
efficient and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
With an average of five 300MW coal-fueled power plants being built
each week, it is a challenge that has to be addressed sooner rather
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