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Government bans coal-fired power stations
( 2003-10-09 01:29) (China Daily)

China has banned the building and expansion of coal-fired power plants in big and medium-sized cities.

The State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) released details of the ban, designed to control sulphur dioxide emissions, yesterday.

Nearly one-third of the country now suffers from serious acid rain, a major byproduct of sulphur dioxide emissions.

SEPA statistics show coal-fired power stations emitted more than 6.6 million tons of sulphur dioxide last year or more than a third of total emissions.

In big and medium-sized cities, thermo-electricity projects that are approved under national energy policies and meet environmental protection standards can be given the green light.

But equipment to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions must be designed, built and operated as part of these projects, under the new measures.

This equipment must be included in new coal-fired power stations and existing plants due for expansion in "control'' regions.

These regions, which extend for nearly 1.1 million square kilometres in China, are those with serious sulphur dioxide discharge and acid rain problems.

The regions include Beijing, Shanghai and 21 provincial capitals. Most are economically-advanced cities. They collectively account for more than 60 per cent of the country's total sulphur dioxide emissions.

Since 1995, when China first mapped its sulphur dioxide hotspots, it has focused on controlling the emissions and reducing acid rain in these areas.

Outside the control areas in western China, coal-fired power plants that fail to meet national discharge standards must also build "desulphurization'' facilities.

Those that meet national standards will be asked to leave space for such facilities or to build them over time.

The new measures require local governments to establish sulphur dioxide control projects if they want to build coal-fired power plants. Such projects must form part of the plants.

Desulphurization projects in 137 coal-fired power plants, listed as "key plants,'' must be completed by 2005.

Any local governments or business that fails to meet the deadline will face severe penalties and be deprived of the opportunity to build or expand thermoelectricity projects.

The measures also push for coal-fired plants to be charged for the sulphur dioxide they emit.

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