Opinion / From the Press

Second thought before developing coal chemical industry

(chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2012-09-10 18:47

China’s coal-chemical industry is entering a new stage of development, with 15 local pilot projects approved in late August.

But authorities should take the environmental costs into account. The biggest problem is water resources. Statistics show direct liquefaction of coal needs 7 tons of water for each ton of coal, and the indirect liquefaction process needs 12 tons. Other procedures also require large amounts of water.

This industry is not welcome in most countries, except South Africa, which gets more than 90 percent of its energy from coal.

The 15 projects will need 1.1 billion tons of water in 2015. The coal industry’s overall water consumption in China will hit 10 billion tons then. And most of these projects are in the dry areas of Northwest China.

It is expected that local water resources will shoulder unprecedented pressures. Local ecological and soil degeneration will be fast. In addition, other pollutants will be discharged in the production process.

China is already the largest coal producer and importer in the world. More than half the coal in the world is produced in China. If the coal-chemical industry is fully developed, China may use more coal to satisfy its thirst for energy.

While authorities declare their intention to get rid of their reliance on coal, this industry makes the declaration harder to fulfill. It will become increasingly difficult to control China’s carbon emissions.

In fact, western China should pay more attention to developing solar and wind energy, but not go back to coal.

Translated from 21st Century Business Herald

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