The State Council, China’s parliament, recently endorsed a plan to accelerate closure of the nation’s smaller coal-fired power plants. The plan is to close the small plants by 2010 Coal powered plants with capacity under 50 megawatts (MW) will be ordered to close by 2010, as will 100 MW generators that have been in operation for 20 years or more
According to Li Junhong, a power expert in Nanjing, generators under 50,000 kilowatts consume 200 grams more energy per kilowatt of electricity generated than those above 300,000 kilowatts. China’s larger “ultra-supercritical” thermal power generators, with over 1 million kilowatts of generating capacity, consume roughly 290 grams of coal per kilowatt, while some smaller generators use around 1,000 grams per kilowatt. The coal used to produce only 1 kilowatt of electricity in small plants will generate as many as 2–3 kilowatts in larger ones.
Statistics also reveal that small plants emit 20 times more particulate matter and smog-forming pollutants than larger ones, and three times the sulfur dioxide. In 2006, coal burning was responsible for 90 percent of China’s sulfur dioxide discharges and 70 percent of its emissions of particulate matter and other smog-forming pollutants, according to World Watch magazine.