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Sulfur dioxide reduction: an arduous task to China
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2007-02-28 13:28

By Han Ji

In 2006, China's gross discharge of sulfur dioxide amounted to 25.944 million tons; the growth margin for its gross discharge of sulfur dioxide decreased by 11.3 percent on a year-on-year basis. Nevertheless, the objective to reduce the annual gross discharge by 2 percent is still not realized yet; instead, the annual gross discharge increased by 1.8 percent. As one index for main pollutants in the atmosphere, the discharge volume of sulfur dioxide has drawn attention from all circles in the society. Recently, the State Environmental Protection Administration of China held a meeting to analyze the status quo of environmental protection together with experts from relevant aspects to discuss major programs of lasting importance for reducing the discharge.

The desulfurizing capacity of electricity plants constructed last year has exceeded the gross during the 10 years in the past. And it is the first time for such a situation that the annual desulfurizing installation capacity has surpassed the newly increased power generation installation capacity to occur.

Yin Ruiyu, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said that in 2006, the GDP growth rate of certain regions was beyond expectation; the nationwide consumption of coal increased by 230 million tons to 2.365 billion tons; thermal power generation increased by 15.3 percent and the annual increment to the installation capacity increased by over 100 million kw, thus the volume of sulfur dioxide produced was over 2.8 million tons more than that in 2005. The reduction of discharge is to some extent correlative to the GDP growth rate. It should be said that in 2006, it was very difficult to reduce the discharge.

Hao Jiming, another academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said that the coal consumption increased by 230 million tons and there produced 2.8 million tons of sulfur dioxide more, such an increment was comparatively small. As far as the control was concerned, it should be said that the reduction that we had obtained was unprecedented and the efforts that we had made in the construction of desulfurizing facilities were rare even in the world, such a progress was closely related to greater efforts in environmental protection.

In 2006, the environmental protection departments made greater efforts to renovate key sectors for the discharge of sulfur dioxide. Major progresses were made in the desulfurization of power plants, the installation capacity with the desulfurizing facilities installed accumulated to 150 million kw, accounting for about 30 percent of thermal power generation installation capacity. The installation capacity of desulfurizing power generation assembling sets added up to 104 million kw and for the coal power generation assembling sets put into production last year, an installation capacity of 52.70 million kw would run together with desulfurizing facilities. The reduction capacity increased by 3.50 million tons year on year.

In 2006, the competent authorities of environmental protection managed to reduce about 100,000 tons of sulfur dioxide from that in 2005 by adopting such measures as closing down small thermal power generation assembling sets; benefits from adjusting the industrial structure began to emerge. Experts analyzed that as it was a dynamic process to reduce the discharge of pollutants, it was also normal and reasonable that the discharge of pollutants fluctuates from year to year. As a result, the objective for reducing the discharge should be looked on dynamically.

So long as measures are in place, it will be probable to fulfill the task of reducing the discharge in 2007. In order to realize the objective to reduce the discharge, environmental protection departments at various levels will focus on implementing the following three measures:

Firstly, to reduce the discharge through launching specific projects. It mainly means to emphasize on accelerating the implementation of the State's desulfurizing projects for coal-fired power plants, which is a fundamental safeguard for reducing the discharge of pollutants. Control new projects' volume of sulfur dioxide discharge strictly, coal-fired power generation assembling sets newly installed, rebuilt, or enlarged must be installed with a desulfurizing set at the same time as prescribed by laws and regulations on environmental protection; with the desulfurization for old assembling sets accelerated, the annual desulfurizing capacity had added up to 11.30 million tons.

Secondly, to reduce the discharge through restructuring. It mainly means to cut down the discharge of sulfur dioxide with the State adjusting the industrial structure so as to gradually wash out production equipment with a high consumption of energy and a heavy pollution as well as behind-lagging production technologies and techniques, which is an important guarantee for the reduction of the gross pollutants. During the Eleventh Five-Year Period, the discharge of sulfur dioxide can be reduced by 1.60 million tons by closing down small thermal power generation projects, washing out the behind-lagging puddling capacity of 100 million tons and the behind-lagging cement production capacity with an annual production volume of 55 million tons.

Thirdly, to reduce the discharge on basis of management. What is emphasized here is to supervise the desulfurization of circulating fludized bed boilers, which is an important safeguard for reducing the discharge of pollutants. For the time being, there are altogether over 2000 circulating fludized bed boilers in China with a total installation capacity of nearly 40 million kw and a total sulfur dioxide discharge volume of 1.60 million tons. As the supervision is not in place, the desulfurization within the boiler for most circulating fludized bed boilers has failed to cut down the sulfur dioxide discharge substantially. With the supervision over 125 mw coal-fired power assembling sets in place, the sulfur dioxide discharge can be reduced by at least 600,000 tons. With the above-said three measures implemented, the sulfur dioxide discharge can be reduced by 13.50 million tons by 2010, which is much more than the objective of 12 million tons, 10 percent as required. Thus, it is hopeful that the task to reduce the discharge will be fulfilled.

To reduce the discharge of pollutants is a long-term and arduous task, and many developed countries in the world had experienced such a process in their development. It took the USA 30 years to fulfill such a task, Great Britain spent 20 years on it, and Japan also spent 20 years on it. So we should be well prepared in our mind to deal with such an issue during a long term.

Experts believe that with a view on the analysis on the reduction of pollutant discharge as a whole, the major battlefield for cutting down the gross sulfur dioxide is in the electric industry, the dedication of which to the objective to cut down the discharge by 10 percent will amount to over 90 percent. Therefore, it is necessary to do a good job in fathering coal-fired power plants.

It is estimated by experts that in the coming four years, China's GDP will maintain an annual growth rate of about 9 percent. If the GDP growth rate gains a percentage point, the coal consumption will increase by 20 million tons and over 300,000 tons of sulfur dioxide will be produced. To fulfill the objective to cut down the gross sulfur dioxide discharge by 10 percent on basis of the annual discharge in 2005 by 2010, the annual discharge-reducing volume must increase by 12 million tons; as a result, the situation for reducing the discharge is still rather severe. 
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