Beijing shuts last major coal power plant


The last major coal power plant in Beijing has ceased operations, making the Chinese capital the first city in the country to have all its power plants fuelled by clean energy.

The Huaneng Beijing thermal power plant, which started operating in 1999, had five coal-fired units with a total installed capacity of 845,000 kilowatts and a heating capacity of 26 million square meters.

Following its closure on Saturday, emissions of 1.76 million tonnes of coal, 91 tonnes of sulphur dioxide and 285 tonnes of nitrogen oxide will be reduced annually, state-run agency Xinhua reports.

The shutdown is part of a pledge by Beijing, one of the most polluted cities in the world, to improve air quality by cutting coal consumption.

The city promised to shut its four coal-fired power plants between 2013 and 2017 and build four plants fuelled by natural gas. Three of these gas plants have already been built and are operational.

In addition to Huaneng, three plants which consumed over 6.8 million tonnes of coal annually were closed in 2014 and 2015.

Beijing has 27 power plants, all of which rely on clean energy and have a total capacity of 11.3 million kilowatts.

Despite this symbolic shutdown, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post daily reported on Sunday that the city, which has over 30 million inhabitants, cannot produce enough electricity to meet its own energy demand.

Beijing is therefore dependent on supply from coal-fired power plants in the neighbouring provinces of Hebei and Inner Mongolia, where environmental regulations are not enforced so strictly.