Natural gas utilized for air pollution control in north China
In a small village called Dongxinzhuang in Shijiazhuang, capital city of north China's Hebei Province, 128 families have already started to use natural gas for cooking and heating water. In the coming winter, the natural gas boilers hanging on their walls in their kitchens will also provide their heating.
The village began to install the natural gas boilers in mid-March this year, and on May 4, villagers started to use the natural gas to replace coal that they have been using for many years.
Xue Zengxiang, Secretary of Dongxinzhuang Village, says villagers only paid a third of the installation fee.
"To install a natural gas boiler in a 200-square meter-house like this costs 3,060 yuan, or around 464 US dollars, but the family only had to pay 1,060 yuan. The rest is subsidized by the government."
In addition to the installation fee, the government also provides subsidies to pay for the natural gas used.
In recent years, Hebei Province has had a bad reputation for severe air pollution. In the latest report released by China's Environmental Protection Ministry, among the ten most air-polluted cities last August, six were in Hebei Province. Shijiazhuang, as the capital city, ranks fifth from the bottom.
Coal burning has been the main source of energy in Shijiazhuang, and also the main cause of its air pollution. And so the government is sparing no effort to cut the use of coal.
Ma Yuchen, Deputy director of Shijiazhuang Environmental Protection Bureau, explains.
"Due to the industrial structure of Hebei Province, we used to burn coal a lot. Now, we do our utmost to reduce coal-generated emissions. From 2013 to 2016, the amount of coal burned has already been reduced by 10.6 million tons."
He adds that under the general plan of air pollution control in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, using natural gas and electricity to replace coal is the key emphasis for this year. 390,000 families will use natural gas and 12,000 families will use electricity to replace coal in Shijiazhuang City by the end of this year.
Furthermore, the municipal government has also transformed over 5,000 coal-fired boilers for industrial use, to reduce the coal-generated emissions.
According to China's 13th Five-Year Plan, in 2020, the days with good air quality in Chinese cities should be 80% of the year.