Every autumn, northern cities in China have to heat themselves up in
succession to fight against plummeting temperatures.
Wednesday is Beijing's turn.
Like other residents in the capital,
the Ning family are looking forward to the warmth. "Back in 2003, we were not so
happy," said Ning Xingsheng, a computer technician who has lived in Haidian
District for more than 20 years.
A woman checks the heater's temperature yesterday at
her apartment in Haidian District in Beijing. [China Daily]
community coal-fuelled boiler supplied the heat in the Nings' residential
building three years ago and caused some problems. "It worked best in the
morning but cooled down at night," Ning recalled. "The worst thing was its heavy
And it's the burning of coal that is one of the biggest pollution problems
not only in Beijing but nationwide.
When autumn arrived, coal was piled in front of the boiler next to the Nings'
"The strong winter wind always carried the soot everywhere and made our
clothes and hair dirty," Ning said. "Our windows were often coated with the
black dust, too."
The antiquated boiler was finally removed in 2003, and the Nings' building
was connected to a central heating system fuelled by natural gas. "Now the
indoor temperature is much higher than before, and it stays steady all day,"
Ning said. "More important, it's much cleaner."
The Nings' story reflects the change in Beijing's heating system since the
Even better, next year will witness a landmark achievement, as every coal
boiler and furnace in the city proper of Beijing will be powered by gas or
electrical systems by the end of 2007.
To date, more than 16,000 small city boilers in Beijing, each with a
capacity of less than 20 tons, have been transformed into gas or
The same update has been made to all the 44,000 smaller coal-fuelled
And next year, the last group of 1,300 boilers and furnaces will switch their
coal power sources to natural gas or electricity, said Cheng Ying, a senior
official with the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau.
With these renovations completed, the city will reduce an additional annual
need for coal by 6 million tons about 12 per cent of Beijing's total annual need
in 2010, based on the municipal government's projection.
The coal reduction will cut 20,000 tons of smog and dirt and 40,000 tons of
sulphur dioxide (SO2) from Beijing's air every year, Cheng said.