Wednesday, December 26, 2007

China Illegal Power Plants and Coal Mines

I could never get my sons to do what I wanted, but I thought if I was a communist totalitarian government I would be able to get edits complied with. Is it possible that in China an illegal coal fired power plant is being built every day? Over 300 a year?
Illegal Power Plants, Coal Mines In China Pose Challenge for Beijing Wall Street Journal December 27, 2006 article by Shai Oster.

■ “China's out-of-control demand for energy”
■ China “central government discovered that Inner Mongolia had illegally built about 10 power plants, or 8.6 gigawatts of electricity-generating capacity -- equal to about a 10th of the United Kingdom's total capacity”
■ “The illegal plants … stand out as polluters even in an industry that is one of China's leading sources of emissions”
■ “demand for … coal … has spawned thousands of illegal coal mines that have contributed to more than 4,000 coal-mining deaths in China this year”
■ “One fifth of the power plants in China are illegal, according to government estimates -- enough to light up all of the U.K. While the electricity they supply is essential to power China's growth, the uncontrolled manner in which they are multiplying, often under the protection of local authorities, poses a challenge to Beijing's authority and its grip on energy policy.”
■ “The central government is likewise finding it hard to crack down on illegal coal mines. In past years it has shut down thousands of mines -- only to see thousands more spring up in their place. The primary reason: the soaring profits to be made from selling coal to China's power plants are a powerful temptation.”
■ “construction continues today at the Xinfeng plant nearly a year after Beijing ordered it stopped”
■ “5,938 coal miners were killed in accidents, mostly in smaller, illegal mines. Such accidents are so commonplace here that only the larger ones rank as news.”
■ “Coal is one of the biggest pollution sources in China”
■ “Coal consumption initially crept up slowly, to around 1.5 billion metric tons a year in the mid-1990s, from just under one billion metric tons a year a decade earlier. Last year, however, China consumed about 2.2 billion metric tons of coal, one-third of the world's total and more than any other country.”
■ “Natural gas, which burns more efficiently and causes far less pollution, has proved too expensive to compete effectively”
■ “Smaller, often inefficient, and dangerous mines account for about a third of China's coal production. They are so important to meeting its energy needs that the central government recently delayed plans to improve safety by shuttering many of them.”
■ “In 2003 and 2004, massive power shortages in the south led to rolling blackouts. Local authorities across China decided to build power plants, often illegally, to keep their local economies humming.”
■ “Mr. Yan's hometown in the mountains of Hunan didn't have electricity until 1990. At first, his house had one light bulb. Now, the money he earns from construction has paid for a television, washing machine, refrigerator and air conditioning, a pattern repeated in millions of homes across China as people get richer.”


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