Inefficient coal plants shuttered in move to reduce consumption and pollution

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By Andy Scott

SHANGHAI, Oct. 12 – China closed 253 low-efficiency coal-firing power plants and replaced them with high-efficiency generators, reducing the annual coal consumption by 13.5 million tons and carbon dioxide emission by 27 million tons, said Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan at the second forum on Sino-Japan Energy Saving and Environmental Protection last week.

A program aimed at lowering energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20 percent by the year 2010 was initiated last year. The program also targets to reduce chemical oxygen demand by 10 percent in 2010, compared with 2005.

In order to achieve the target, an estimated US$300 billion will be needed. China will also be taking measures to drive the development and application of renewable energy with taxation and fiscal incentives.

We have already seen some of this in the Pearl River Delta, where the consequences of being the world’s factory for the last 20 years can be seen on a daily basis in the smog that hangs over many of South China’s major cities.
Local governments are now considering environment costs more important and obtaining an environmental evaluation report has become a standard requirement when registering a company in most cities.

If a business involves pollution, even if only incidental, a qualified agent will need to be hired to obtain an environmental evaluation report. Consequently, based on the report, a business may need to install equipment to minimize the environmental impact of operations. The entire evaluation procedure must be completed before operations my begin, so depending on the complexity of the manufacturing process as well as the as the efficiency of governmental departments and qualified agents involved, a business will have to factor in the time needed for an environment related evaluation when developing their business plan.

“From our experience in the Pearl River Delta, we consider local governments’ practice regarding environmental issues as still unorganized and immature,” says Rosario Di Maggio of Dezan Shira & Associates’ Guangzhou office. “Although they often insist on the submission of related documents from the beginning of the application process, they may also change their mind later on and reverse it as secondarily relevant.” He suggests that investors always prepare beforehand to avoid any delay in the middle of the application process.