Hebei to reduce household coal use
November 09,2016 By:China Daily
Move expected to cut 'dirty and smelly' emissions, help region improve air quality
Nov. 9, 2016 -- A year from now, Hebei province will cut out all household coal-burning activities in areas surrounding Beijing, a move to reduce pollution in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.
The areas, mainly in Langfang and Baoding, include 3,749 villages where coal is used in households for heating and cooking.
By the end of October next year, the villages will use gas for heating and cooking, or employ electric devices, according to a plan released recently by the provincial government.
As motivation, villagers will receive electric or gas subsidies for three years based on the cost of replacing their coal-burning devices.
At the same time, places designated as "coal-restricted areas" will accelerate the development of central heating fueled by clean energy. For power plants and central heating stations that are using coal as fuel, they can still use coal, but must meet the lowest emission standard.
By the end of 2020, all fuel for producing heat in the area should be clean energy, according to the plan.
Gao Hongchao, whose parents live in Zhoumafang village, Langfang, which is in the coal-restricted area, said that her parents welcomed the change, because "coal-burning at home was dirty and smelly".
According to Wang Wei, a professor at the School of Resources and Environmental Sciences of Hebei Normal University in Shijiazhuang, coal-burning for heating is "the chief culprit of air pollution in winter", as the cold weather conditions inhibit pollutants from dispersing.
Household coal-burning devices discharge emissions directly into the air, without any treatment for environmental protection, he said.
"If they are replaced by clean energy, it will help to improve air quality," he said.
In addition to Hebei, Beijing and Tianjin are also reducing coal consumption.
According to the 2016-2017 Strengthening Measures Guide for the Control of Air Pollution in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region released by the Ministry of Environmental Protection in July, Beijing will basically eliminate the use of coal by the end of October next year, and Tianjin will tighten regulation of coal-burning for heating in the rural Wuqing district, which is near the capital.
According to the guide, next year's average annual concentration of PM2.5 - hazardous particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter - will be reduced to 60 micrograms per cubic meter in Beijing and Tianjin, and 67 in Hebei.
With the arrival of cold weather, heavy smog has already hit the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area several times this year. More smog is expected after the central heating system is switched on next week and villages' coal-fueled heating starts.