In recent years, China has surpassed the United States in how much coal it burns for electricity. But China is also investing a lot of money in technology to burn the coal more cleanly. That’s the conclusions from a Kentucky trade delegation that just returned from a 10-day trip to Shanghai, Beijing and Inner Mongolia. Kentucky’s trade delegation included representatives from the University of Kentucky, the state Chamber of Commerce and coal companies.
Chad Harpole is the Kentucky Chamber’s director of public affairs. He sees China’s progress in cleaner coal technology as good news for Kentucky.
“What China is doing is showing that it can be done,” he said. “And Kentucky and the nation is right there trying to play catch up with them and get the economics figured out where it will be cost feasible to do this stuff.”
Harpole says if the United States wants to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants, it should abandon inefficient power plant scrubbers and follow China’s lead by investing more in newer coal technology.
“It takes more coal to burn to get the same amount of power with scrubbers, etcetera,” he said. “And that’s something that China has figured out and that’s why they continue to update and modernize their grid system and their power plants.”
Harpole says Chinese scientists are also making strides in coal to gas liquification in an attempt to reduce their country’s reliance on foreign oil.