A Shanghai coal-fired power plant is being championed as a model for the rest of China to emulate, as a result of the efficiencies created through its design.

New Scientist reports that a Chinese engineer has re-engineered the Shanghai-Waigaoqiao No. 3 Power Plant to make it one of the world’s most efficient – and a potential model for the country’s coal-burning future.
Shanghai-Waigaoqiao No. 3 Power Plant
While the Beijing government is working hard to incorporate more renewables into the energy mix, China still has a large dependency on coal, as oil and gas reserves are limited.

Feng Weizhong, general manager of the state-run plant, has overseen the introduction of technology which have enabled the plant to mill coal, generate electricity and remove sulphur compounds from its gas stream more efficiently.

Feng’s supporters say that he achieved his efficiency gains in Shanghai by designing site-specific, cost-effective solutions for each component of the plant.

The plant burns 276 grams of coal per kilowatt-hour, compared with China’s national average of 315 grams per kilowatt-hour

The plant supplies about 8 per cent of the megacity’s power and is in one of the country’s largest power-generating complexes.

Mao Jianxiong, an energy expert at Beijing’s Tsinghua University who has consulted at the plant told New Scientist that Feng is currently working on a plant prototype that promises even greater gains.

Feng is designing a plant that he says will have as its signature feature a system that more efficiently transfers steam between the boiler and turbine and reduces the need for expensive steel piping.

Mao says the new plant, in the eastern province of Anhui, will burn 251 grams per kilowatt-hour. If all China’s coal-fired plants were that efficient, the country would reduce its annual carbon dioxide emissions by some 7 per cent, he says.

The coal lobby, including the World Coal Association, has consistently warned that coal will continue to dominate the energy mix in much of the developed world and called for investment in clean coal technology as a means of reducing the emissions that are inevitable in that scenario.