China’s Efforts and Challenges in Optimizing its Fuel Consumption Structure
By admin February 23, 2018

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Beijing, the capital city of China with a population of over 20 million, has experienced not only a fast pace economic growth but also an alarming environmental problem, specifically air pollution. In the past decade, Beijingers found that smog days were exceptionally frequent, particularly in winter times. The type of smog looming over the city contains pollutants such as PM10 and PM2.5. PM2.5 worries Beijingers most because PM2.5, according to an article published by the Atmosphere Journal, are particles with aerodynamic diameters less than or equal to 2.5 μm, and are more likely to be linked to respiratory diseases than PM10. Scientists now use a scale ranging from 0 to 500, where 0 is the best and 500 is the worst, to measure the concentration level of PM2.5. Clearly, the lower the level is, the better the air quality would be. From 2008 to 2014, the average concentration level for PM2.5 in Beijing was around 100 μg/, almost three times higher than the World Health Organization’s 35 μg/ standard. During the winter, there were days that the PM2.5 concentration level reached 200+ or even 500. A research conducted by Nanjing University’s School of the Environment reveals that as many as 31.8% of all recorded deaths in November could be linked to pollution.



Aware of this severe problem, the State Council of China implemented the Action Plan for Air Pollution Prevention and Control, which aims to reduce PM2.5 concentration levels and coal consumption, and promote renewable energy. The first phase of the action plan spanned from 2013 to 2017. In 2017, at the end of the first phase, Beijing’s Major, Cai Qi, announced that the government will further reduce coal burning by 30%. In order to accomplish this goal, the government in Beijing banned the burning of coal in six major Beijing districts and in southern rural areas, and tried to keep residents warm by installing heat that uses natural gas. Unfortunately, the natural gas supply could not meet the increased demand in the first couples of weeks after the coal ban was implemented, resulting in a number of people helpless in the cold winter wind. After a short period of time, China’s government relaxed the coal ban. The reversal of the coal ban revealed that it is not easy for China to get eradicate the usage of coal. China is the second biggest economy in the world and a developing country at the same time. The fuel consumption structure in China looks much different than that in developed countries.



As the graph above notes, coal accounts for over 60% of energy consumption in China. This fact shows that it is difficult to find a substitution for the usage of coal. Conclusively, it is clear that China’s government is trying to replace coal with other resources. On the other hand, the process to reduce coal and rely on alternative energy sources looks long and challenging.

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