China leads on cleaner-coal plants

While China’s massive use of coal and frenetic construction of coal-fired power plants have raised concerns around the world, the country has emerged as the leader in cheaper and cleaner coal technology, the New York Times reported. In the past two years, the newspaper said, China has mastered the technology and driven down the costs.


The United States is still debating whether to build a more efficient kind of coal-fired power plant that uses extremely hot steam, the paper said, while China has begun building such plants at a rate of one a month. China now uses more coal than the United States, Europe and Japan combined, making it the largest emitter of the greenhouse gases that are warming the earth.

US construction has stalled on a new generation of low-pollution power plants that turn coal into a gas before burning it. However, energy secretary Steven Chu said one power plant of this type may be revived. China already has approved equipment purchases for such a plant, to be assembled soon in Tianjin.

"The steps they’ve taken are probably as fast and as serious as anywhere in power-generation history,” said Hal Harvey, president of ClimateWorks, of the Chinese effort. ClimateWorks, a San Francisco group, helps finance projects to limit global warming.

Western countries continue to rely heavily on outdated, dirty and inefficient coal-fired power plants. China has begun requiring power companies to retire an older, more polluting power plant for each new one they build.

"We shouldn’t look at this project from a purely financial perspective,” said Cao Peixi, president of the China Huaneng Group, the majority partner in the Tianjin venture. “It represents the future."

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