Energy revolution changing people's lives for the better

By Yuan Shenggao (China Daily)

Updated: 2022-07-22


A wind farm straddles the Lyuliang Mountains in the county of Jiaokou. [Photo by Hao Hui for China Daily]

Host of companies innovating to get the most out of Shanxi's green power resources

A taxi driver in Shanxi province's capital of Taiyuan, whose surname is Li, said he used to think energy revolution was only a slogan used by authorities, instead of a concern of ordinary people.

But recently, he felt the benefits that energy revolution has brought to his livelihood.

On one summer day while driving, Li was reminded by the car console that it was time to charge the battery. He took out his smartphone and clicked on an app icon called Green Electricity.

The app told him where green electricity charging stations were available in his vicinity. He arrived at one in minutes and got his car charged.

The green electricity, generated using clean energy sources like hydropower, solar power and wind power, can be much cheaper for a full charge than electricity generated from coal-fired plants, thanks to the government subsidy for clean-energy development, according to Li.

"The electricity we use to charge our cars is already much cheaper than other conventional fuels like gasoline and diesel," Li said. "So we can enjoy a substantial decrease in energy cost, which is very significant for a taxi driver who has to be on the road all day long."

The use of green energy resources in power generation has grown substantially in recent years because it produces almost zero emissions and has support from the State. However, instability in power generation and low utilization efficiency are challenges the green electricity sector needs to address, according to industry insiders.

They said wind and solar power sectors are affected by the weather, while the hydropower sector is influenced by river runoff volume. Their inherently unstable supply to power grids is a disadvantage compared with coal-fired electricity.

Xiangrui New Energy, the developer of the Green Electricity platform and app, is among the pioneers in Shanxi to offer an answer, according to Sun Dawei, a senior engineer at the company.

"Using digital and virtual reality technologies, our platform is connected with power plants, power grids, charging stations and end users like taxi drivers," Sun said. "With information regarding power supply conditions, the drivers can select from green electricity or conventional electricity for charging based on availability and convenience."

Shanxi is now one of the pioneers in China's energy revolution campaign, which aims to realize peak carbon in 2030 and carbon neutrality in 2060.

The province's own initiatives for the energy revolution campaign include promoting the development of green energy resources like wind and solar power, and upgrading the coal-mining industry with the latest technologies to improve efficiency and reduce emissions.

The capacity of power generation plants based on clean and renewable energy resources now accounts for 34.3 percent of Shanxi's total, local statistics show.

Shanxi witnessed rapid growth in the development of solar and wind power industries during the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20). Those years saw wind-power generation capacity increase at an average annual rate of 24.16 percent, while the rate for solar-power generation was 63.22 percent. It ranked Shanxi among the fastest-growing provinces in the two sectors.

In the area of coal-mine upgrading, Shanxi's industrial players have been using the latest digital and automatic technologies.

Statistics from the Shanxi Energy Administration show that more than 75 percent of the coal output in Shanxi was from advanced facilities in 2021. Such facilities feature higher efficiency, fewer emissions and less pollution.

Shanxi Coking Coal Group is one of the pioneers in using new technologies to improve efficiency and reduce emissions.

It has recently developed such technological solutions as unmanned coal cutting, digitalized remote control and the simultaneous extraction of coal and coal-bed methane to improve efficiency and safety.

One of its renowned environmentally friendly practices is refilling depleted mining shafts with coal refuse to avoid the risks of geological disasters.

Lu'an Group, a coal-mining and power generation company based in the city of Changzhi, has designed a comprehensive approach to upgrade its operations.

One of its solutions is turning coal into cleaner fuel through liquefaction before it is used for power generation.

Lu'an Coal-Based Clean Energy, one of the branch companies of the group, recently launched a power generation project fired by liquefied coal. The facility can process 1.8 million metric tons of coal a year.

A number of companies in Shanxi have recently reported achievements in the comprehensive use of coal, including turning the mineral into hydrogen, carbon-graphite and other chemicals and new materials.

Lu'an Group is once again an important player in these initiatives. It recently announced the completion of a project for making carbon fiber from coal. Its annual output will be 1,800 tons of carbon fiber upon full operation, the biggest in the country, according to company executives.

Another player in developing new materials from coal, the Second Research Institute of China Electronics Technology Group Corp based in the provincial capital of Taiyuan, has realized mass production of 4 and 6-inch silicon carbide chips, with coal as the raw material.

It is the largest company in China and the only one in Shanxi developing and producing silicon carbide materials, according to its executives.

Zhang Yi contributed to this story.