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Beijing starts shift from coal to gas

2013-11-08 13:26 CNTV Web Editor: Li Yan

Beijing says it's starting to do something to clean up the air after last year's record-high pollution that left the city gasping for air. The government says it plans to increase the use of cleaner energy in homes and on the road.

In many of Beijing's old Hutong communities, coal is still the main source of winter heating.

Yuan Shumin has been using it for as long as she can remember, but not because she wants to.

"Electric heating is cheaper than burning coal. So why aren't we using electric heating? It's warm, it's not poisonous like coal, and it's also safer to use with elderly people in the house." Beijing resident Yuan Shumin said.

But their requests for electric heating went unanswered.

There is some movement, though. Four coal-burning heating plants will replace coal with natural gas for heating and electricity in the center of the city.

Facilities at one of them are being built now, and it's supposed to start generating electricity in the next year or two.

"Our installed capacity will expand to 1.37 million kilowatts when we replace coal with natural gas. At the same time, it's cleaner. There will be no more leftover residue from coal." Zhong Qianghua, engineer of Beijing Energy Investment Holding Co., Ltd. said.

This is just one of the solutions proposed by Professor Ma Yongliang who studies air pollution control.

"One is to replace coal. The other is to cut emissions from coal that is burned. There used to be over 20 million tons of coal burned every year. But according to the current target, there will be 17 million tons burnt in a year." Ma Yongliang, associate professor of Air Pollution Control Department of Tsinghua university, said.

There are also some restrictions on the use of private cars, although the roads are still thoroughly congested. More electric buses will go into use.

"Within five years, 20 percent of buses will be electric. And 65 percent of all buses will be powered by clean energy." Zhao Jianbo, chief engineer of Beijing Public Transportation Group, said.

There may not be much hope for clean air this winter, but we should see some improvement in the coming years.

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