Beijing Closes Last Coal-Run Power Plant, Moves to Clean Energy

Representational Image

Representational Image

A Chinese woman wears a mask as she walks past a mural on a polluted day on December 12, 2016 in Beijing, China.

The capital has long pledged to improve air quality by reducing the use of coal, which produces fine particles when burned that are crucial to the formation of smog.

Beijing has 27 power plants, all fueled by clean energy with a total installed capacity of 11.3 million kilowatts.

Following Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's promise to "make our skies blue again" at the start of this year's top legislative meetings, Beijing has shut down its last large coal-fired power plant.

The Huangneng Beijing Thermal Power Plant, the last coal utility in operation in the city, was first brought on line in 1999. Now that the final four large-scale power plants have been shut down, the capital has successfully cut its coal use by 8.56 million tons.

Du Chengzhang, the plant's general manager, said it is an efficient and environmental friendly plant with advanced emission treatment equipment.

Since 2013, Beijing has shut down four coal-powered plants, replacing them with plants powered by natural gas, and cutting almost 10 million tonnes in coal emissions annually. It is home to more nuclear power stations than anywhere in the world. And just like that, Beijing became the first Chinese city to rely exclusively on cleaner energy sources - including natural gas and wind farms - to generate electricity and heating. Nonetheless, the coal plant will remain available, at least for the time being, as an emergency supply for the city's heating system.