China's capital city Beijing is planning to reduce coal uses by replacing all coal-fired equipment in its core areas by 2013, in an effort to reduce pollution, state media Xinhua reported.
Four of the city's major coal-burning power plants will be replaced with natural gas-fueling plants, coal-fired winter heating will be banned and more clean energy will be used, said Zhao Lei, deputy director of the municipal Development and Reform Commission, said on Apr 4.
Beijing also wants areas inside its 5th Ring Road to be coal-free by 2015, said Gao Xinyu, head of the commission's energy division.
However, environmental experts were not optimistic about the targets, as switching to gas would require time and a huge investment to build more natural gas pipelines.
And, it would be "extremely hard" to ban the 2.15 million small coal furnaces operating in the city, Xinhua cited one unnamed expert as saying.
Beijing has reduced its cap for annual coal consumption to 15 million tonnes by 2015, from an earlier reduction of 20 million tonnes for the same time period, the commission announced.
In 2010, Beijing consumed 26.35 million tonnes of coal, accounting for 30% of the city's total energy consumption. The other 70% of its energy consumption was made up of natural gas, imported electricity as well as new and renewable energies.
The Beijing government has spent $1.9 billion over the last two years replacing coal-fired heating systems for 160,000 households. Residents who rely on electricity for winter heating are eligible for government subsidies.