SGCC Proposes "Coal-to-Electricity” to Control Smog

It might become an effective measure for China to contain urban air pollution by replacing coal and oil with electricity, which can be transmitted from a distance. SGCC officially brought up the strategy of “Coal-to-electricity”, proposing to increase the utilization of electricity instead of burning coal or oil directly, so that pollutions’ emission can be reduced to ease the smog problem that has been bothering China.

SGCC EVP Yang Qing illustrated the strategy at the 2013 China Green Electricity Summit. Coal-to-electricity aimed to replace coal-burning stoves for industrial and residential purposes with electric ones so as to curb air pollution caused by direct coal burning in middle and eastern area. Oil-to-electricity meant to develop electric vehicles and electric irrigation in rural areas in order to reduce the dependence on oil. Electricity can be transmitted from a distance so that the thermal, wind and solar power from West and North China and the hydropower from Southwest China could be transmitted to Mid and East China via UHV grids in large capacity over long distances with high efficiency, thus to reduce on-site coal-fired electricity in that area.

The Deputy Director General of the Marketing Department, SGCC, Xu Ayuan explained that electricity, as a secondary energy, does not emit pollutants. Though the power generation by coal produces a lot of sewage, it could be processed in bulk by environmental measures. The emission intensity and control cost would be much lower than the traditional distributed burning. As China integrates more wind and solar power into the grids year by year, electricity will be cleaner.

He believed the “Coal-to electricity” strategy would significantly improve the urban air pollution and enhance the efficiency of energy development and utilization. Research has shown that with one more percentage point of electricity in end-use energy consumption in China, the energy consumption per GDP could be lowered by 4%.

SGCC’s final goal is to substitute 100TWh of electricity by 2015, accounting for 2% of the annual national power consumption. The PM2.5 pollution will be lowered by 20% than 2010 in Mid and East China. This goal was close to the aim put forward in the Action Plan for Air Pollution Prevention and Control released by the State Council, which stated to drop the PM2.5 of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, Yangtze Delta and Pearl River Delta areas by about 25%, 20% and 15% respectively by 2017.

It is learned that SGCC has fully launched the “Coal-to-electricity” scheme in August. Measures would be taken in heating, transport, and household. Firstly, large-scale heat pumps, electric heating and electric boilers will be deployed as the “Coal-to-electricity” and “Gas-to-electricity” scheme in major areas such as urban central heating and industrial and commercial areas. Secondly, EV charging and battery swapping facilities will be constructed and auxiliary power supply will be provided for urban rail transport. Finally, residential electrification will be promoted to increase household electricity consumption. Coal-to-electricity will be popularized in suburban and rural areas. (Zheng Xiaoyi)