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China unveils 5-year plan to switch from coal to natural gas for winter heating

The plan is to have half of northern China convert to clean heating, reducing bulk coal burning by 74 million tonnes by 2019.

world Updated: Dec 17, 2017 12:21 IST
Reuters, Beijing
China,Winter Heating,Heating Crisis
This photo taken on December 10, 2017 shows a Chinese soldier patrolling in the snow along the border with Russia in Heihe in China's northeastern Heilongjiang province. Border guards operate in temperatures as low as -33 Celcius. / AFP PHOTO / - / China OUT(AFP)

China announced on Sunday a five-year plan to convert northern Chinese cities to clean heating during the winter through 2021, state media reported, amid a deepening heating crisis.

An unprecedented government campaign to switch millions of households and thousands of businesses from coal to natural gas in northern China this winter has backfired.

Severe natural gas shortages have sent prices soaring nationwide, hitting businesses and residents across China’s industrial heartland.

The plan was jointly announced by 10 government agencies, including the state planning National Development and Reform Commission and the National Energy Administration, the online edition of Securities Times quoted the China Energy News as saying.

The plan covers 2017 through 2021.

The government has made “concrete arrangements” regarding geothermal heating, biomass heating, solar heating, gas heating, electric heating, industrial waste heating, clean coal-fired central heating, the Securities Times said.

By 2019, half of northern China would have converted to clean heating, reducing bulk coal burning by 74 million tonnes, it said.

It gave no further details.

Factories are closing or operating at reduced capacity, businesses are seeing profits shrink as supply chains are disrupted, and residents are struggling to keep warm in sub-zero temperatures without adequate heating at home or in classrooms, according to interviews conducted by Reuters across the region this month.

The campaign to convert coal to gas is part of long-running government efforts to clean the region’s toxic air after decades of unbridled economic growth.

First Published: Dec 17, 2017 11:57 IST