, BEIJING, Mar 8 – Natural gas-fired power plants are likely to edge aside coal in China as the world’s second biggest economy seeks to reduce air pollutions and the feedstock supply looks ample.
China would start monitoring fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in rich regions and “extend the practice” to all cities at and above the prefectural level by 2015, said Premier Wen Jiabao in a government work report delivered at the opening meeting of the parliamentary session on Monday.
Analysts expect the move will squeeze power plants fuelled by cheap but dirty coal and give natural gas-fired power plants an upper hand in obtaining government approvals.
In addition, the future supply of the feedstock looks sufficient as the country steps up efforts to tap natural gas, both conventional and unconventional, analysts said.
China’s conventional natural gas output soared to 100 billion cubic meters in 2011 from the mere 30 billion cubic meters in 2000.
The country also has rich unconventional gas reserves. The Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR) estimated that China has potential shale gas reserves of 134 trillion cubic meters, including recoverable resources of 25 trillion cubic meters. Zhang Dawei, an official at the MLR, forecast that China’s shale gas output would reach 100 billion cubic meters by 2020.
In paces that could rival the rapid increase of gas ouput, the construction of gas pipelines and liquefied natural gas (LNG) bounced forward in past years.
So far, China has built a domestic network including two West-to-East pipelines, the Sichuan-to-East pipeline and three Shaanxi-Beijing pipelines, as well as three cross-border pipelines: the China-Central Asia pipeline, the China-Myanmar pipeline and the China-Russia pipeline.
Meanwhile, LNG terminals are spreading in the world’s third largest country by territory area. By the end of 2012, China is expected to have 12 LNG terminals in coastal cities with a total capacity of 35 million tonnes/year.