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.
Since 1999, the Huaneng Beijing Thermal Power Plant has provided China’s capital with 845,000 kilowatts of power to heat 26 million square meters of the city by burning 1.76 million tonnes of coal annually. But no more!
In a major media event, reporters gathered around to watch on Saturday as the plant’s general manger pressed the little red button that would make Beijing the first Chinese cities to run entirely on “clean energy.”
Since 2013, Beijing has shut down four coal-powered plants, replacing them with plants powered by natural gas, and cutting nearly 10 million tonnes in coal emissions annually. There are now 27 power plants in the city, and urban planners have no plans to build any new large-scale ones in the future, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency.
This news also follows right in the wake of Beijing finally putting someone behind bars for air pollution for the first time — namely, some local heating company worker surnamed Zhao.
However, Zhao’s arrest doesn’t seem to have solved all of the city’s air quality problems. Currently, Beijing’s AQI is at an “unhealthy” 154 with municipal authorities issuing a blue alert for heavy air pollution on Sunday. The thick layer of smog is expected to continue to smother Beijing throughout the week.
[Images via Xinhua]
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