In an effort to reduce the extent of air pollution in its major urban areas China is engaging a strategy to relocate much of its conventional power in the rural western regions of the country.

Pollution levels have hit record highs in recent years in cities like Beijing and Shanghai and China is shifting construction of new coal-fired power plants to its western-most province, Xinjiang, where it plans to double coal-fired power generation by 2019. To achieve this goal it has already started building plants that will produce 20.6 GW of power annually and it plans to add another 28.3 GW of capacity.
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To transmit the electricity from coal-fired plants to the east, China is investing half a trillion dollars to build the world’s largest ultra-high voltage network.

Bloomberg reports that plants in Xinjiang and four other provinces will convert coal to synthetic natural gas and pump it to eastern cities through existing gas pipelines. About 85 percent of the emissions are generated at the plant during the conversion process and only 15 percent at the point the gas is burned.

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