Shanxi seeking more support for its green energy transformation

By Yuan Shenggao (China Daily)

Updated: 2022-03-11


Delegates and deputies from Shanxi province review the Government Work Report during the two sessions in Beijing. [Photo by Li Lianjun for China Daily]

Province hopes to share experience, expertise and benefits of coal-bed methane production with a range of companies across the country

During the annual two sessions of the National People's Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, delegates and deputies from North China's Shanxi province proposed to include key provincial development initiatives into national plans. They aim to boost provincial socioeconomic development and share some of its best practices with the nation.

The two sessions of the NPC and CPPCC National Committee are held on March 4-11. Their agendas include hearing and reviewing work reports delivered by national government, legislative, judicial and procuratorate bodies; and hearing proposals and suggestions from delegates and deputies.

One of the proposals put forward by Shanxi asks for more national authorities' support for its economic transformation and energy revolution programs, and including its pilot coal-bed methane development program into the national plan.

Shanxi is implementing an economic transformation initiative that aims to reduce reliance on coal mining and other heavy industries. It plans to foster strategic emerging industries as new growth engines, as well as an initiative for an energy revolution that features developing cleaner energy resources like wind, solar and coalbed methane and improving the efficiency of coal mining.

As coal-bed methane development is an important link in Shanxi's economic transformation and energy revolution, the province's NPC deputies and CPPCC National Committee members suggested a pilot coal-bed program in the Shanxi city of Jincheng be included into the National Energy Administration's 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) for Coal-Mining Industrial Development.

Coal-bed methane is a form of natural gas. Its thermal value is one to four times higher than coal of the same weight. Almost no exhaust gases are produced after coal-bed methane combustion, according to industry insiders.

However, coal-bed methane presents a danger inside coal mines. It can explode if the concentration of the gas reaches 5-16 percent.

The gas can naturally emit from mines and reach the surface. If it enters the atmosphere, its greenhouse effect is 20 times more than that of carbon dioxide.

Safe extraction of the gas can help avoid coal-mine accidents by reducing its concentration. The extracted coal-bed methane can then be used as a clean energy resource, according to industry insiders.

Shanxi is one of the provinces in China with rich coal-bed methane resources and is a pioneer for the safe use of the gas. The city of Jincheng in the southeast of Shanxi is among those to use safe extraction to produce and apply coal-bed methane as fuel for power plants and households.

Dong Lin, an NPC deputy and a technician from Jincheng-based Du'erping Coal Mine, a subsidiary of Shanxi Coking Coal Group, said the city is now designated by Shanxi's authorities as a demonstration base for coal-bed methane development thanks to its growing industrial scale, research and development capability and a range of applications.

"Jincheng has one of the richest reserves of coal-bed methane in China," Dong said. "It is also in the forefront of the nation in terms of industrial basis, R&D strength, human resources and applications."

The NPC deputy said if Jincheng's pilot coal-bed methane base program can be included into a national energy industry plan, its experience in this area will be better shared nationwide.

"In Jincheng, coal-bed methane exploration goes along with the intelligent operation of coal mines and mining upgrades for better environmental protection," Dong said. "So its practice in this sector is of great significance to boosting production safety and efficiency, as well as improving the environment."

Other proposals from Shanxi's delegations include listing its latest city cluster development program into a national plan.

The deputies and delegates suggested the fledgling Taiyuan-Xinzhou integration program gain support from national authorities to an extent similar with the Shanxi Transformation and Comprehensive Reform Demonstration Zone. Located between the provincial capital of Taiyuan and the city of Jinzhong to its south, the transformation zone was recognized by the State Council in December 2020 as China's first national pilot zone for industrial transformation.

Li Zhiqiang, an NPC deputy from Shanxi, said: "The integration of Taiyuan and Xinzhou can foster a 'northern engine' for Shanxi's growth, just like what the Shanxi Transformation and Comprehensive Reform Demonstration Zone has done over the past decade.

"The three cities of Taiyuan, Xinzhou and Jinzhong can form a larger city cluster, which can drive development of a larger area of neighboring cities with their own industrial strengths and advantages."

Li added that the cities' integration program will not only exert its influence on the province, but become a new part of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei integration program by hosting industries from the three regions.

According to Lin Wu, Party secretary of Shanxi and head of the Shanxi NPC delegation, the Taiyuan-Xinzhou integration program aims to foster a modern industrial system for Shanxi by using both cities' advantages in advanced equipment manufacturing.

While asking national authorities' support, deputies and delegates from Shanxi also promised their own endeavors to promote the province's high-quality growth and contribute to the nation's sustainable development.

Lin said Shanxi will continue its efforts in balancing economic growth and environmental protection, building itself into a demonstration zone for ecological protection and high-quality development of the Yellow River drainage basin.

Guo Yanjie contributed to this story.