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China: Around The Nation

Beijing shuts down its last coal-fired power plant as part of bid to clear air

But capital still relies on polluting energy sources in other provinces for part of its energy needs

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 March, 2017, 4:38pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 January, 2018, 3:23pm

The last coal-fired power plant in Beijing stopped operating on Saturday with the shutdown of its last remaining generators, Xinhua reported.

The historic moment was recorded by cameras as an operator in a blue uniform pressed a red stop button for the fourth steam-turbine array.

With that, Beijing became the first city in China to rely entirely on cleaner energy sources such as natural gas and wind farms for its electricity generation, according to the state news agency.

The capital has long pledged to improve air quality by reducing the use of coal, which produces fine particles when burned that are crucial to the formation of smog.

The power plant was built by China Huaneng Group, one of the largest state-owned energy companies, in 1999 in the eastern suburban area of Beijing. Its five generator arrays, with a total energy capacity of 845 megawatts, burned more than 8 million tonnes of coal per year.

The municipal government said the last remaining generator array annually produced hundreds of tonnes of pollutants, including sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and dust.

However, Beijing, with more than 30 million residents, cannot not produce enough power to meet its own energy demand.

The city also draws electricity from coal-fired power plants in neighbouring provinces such as Hebei and Inner Mongolia, where environmental regulations are weakly enforced.