“Oriental Ruhr” reshapes industrial landscape

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TAIYUAN: At a solar panel plant in Datong, north China’s Shanxi Province, workers are busy packing equipment and readying a shipment bound for Spain.
LONGi Green Energy Technology Co., Ltd., located in the heartland of China’s coal hub, will expand the company’s capacity to catch up with orders. “We deliver on average six containers a day,” said Ren Yonghong, the company’s production manager.
He said the company plans to build another factory with a capacity of 3 GW of monocrystalline silicon batteries. With a raw coal output of 100 million tonnes a year, Datong is a major coal production base in the coal-rich province. The pillar industry, however, developed at the cost of environmental degradation. An industrial transformation has been underway.
Ren, a local resident in Datong, returned to his hometown in 2018 after working in south China’s metropolis of Guangzhou. “Datong has changed with a boom of high-tech projects,” he said. He said in the past, the city only eyed coal-based industries such as coal chemical industry and thermal power plants. However, under a new development philosophy, the “coal capital” has begun to focus on a high-quality economic development mode.
Dubbed as “Oriental Ruhr,” Shanxi has produced more than 19 billion tonnes of raw coal and sent it to 26 Chinese provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities since the founding of the People’s Republic of China. As the saying goes, half of the lamps in China were illuminated by thermal power plants using coal from Shanxi.
In 2018, Shanxi’s raw coal output was 893 million tonnes, more than 340 times the output in 1949. However, the fast growth has left “scars.” There is a subsidence area of at least 3,000 square km as a result of coal mining in the province, which also triggered disruption of ground rivers. In May 2019, the central authorities required Shanxi to pilot comprehensive reform to improve the quality and efficiency of the energy supply system, build a clean and low-carbon energy consumption model, promote energy science and technology innovation and expand energy cooperation with foreign countries. – Agencies