Reuters reports that the sum of many local government initiatives to clean up air pollution, shut down bloated heavy industry, and improve energy infrastructure is that “almost 4 million homes in 28 cities” will experience their first coal-free winter this year. Cleaner-burning natural gas will become the heat source for those homes, as many cities historically dependent on the coal industry also shut down thousands of coal-fired industrial boilers. Caixin notes that one city known as China’s coal capital — Taiyuan, Shanxi Province — even “banned sales, transport and use of coal by most plants.”
The nationwide shift to natural gas is requiring tens of billions of yuan in investment in infrastructure and the subsidization of gas, as “gas costs almost double that of coal” and China will be reliant on gas imports. “Wood Mackenzie reckons the effort will add 10 billion cubic meters of gas demand this winter,” equivalent to about 5 percent of China’s consumption last year, or “the equivalent of Vietnam’s total annual use,” according to Reuters.
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