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Coal-rich Shanxi speeds up green transformation

Shanxi province, a major coal supplier in China, has accelerated the reform of its energy sector by promoting green and intelligent mining and the application of new energy, senior provincial officials said on Wednesday.

Last year, the production of raw coal in Shanxi grew 4.4 percent year-on-year to reach 1.37 billion metric tons, about 29 percent of the national total, making it the biggest raw coal producer among all provincial-level regions, data from local authorities showed.

“While ensuring safety, we rely on intelligent and green transformation to further increase mining efficiency and boost energy supply,” said Wu Wei, executive vice-governor of Shanxi, at a news conference held by the State Council Information Office in Beijing.

Currently, all underground coal mining activities in Shanxi are mechanized, and 54 percent of the province’s coal production capacity is achieved through intelligent mining, Wu said, adding that many companies such as technology giant Huawei have come to Shanxi to help with its digital transformation.

The province is also promoting green mining technologies, including solid filling mining, water conservation mining and the simultaneous exploration of coal and gas resources, to solve problems of traditional coal mining such as road fractures and farmland sinking.

The production of unconventional natural gas in the province reached 14.59 billion cubic meters in 2023, up 9.6 percent year-on-year, according to the Shanxi statistics bureau.

Last year, Shanxi generated 446.1 billion kilowatt-hours of power, an increase of 6.6 percent compared with 2022, with 157.6 billion kWh transmitted outside the province, according to the bureau.

Wu said new and clean energy currently accounts for 46.4 percent of installed capacity in the province. “The amount of green electricity we transmitted outside reaches first nationwide,” he said.

Wu added that the Communist Party of China Central Committee has designated Shanxi as a national pilot for reform of energy transformation, pointing out a new path for the province’s green development. “Our goal is to take practical actions, not to be the coal powerhouse, but to lead the transformation toward green energy.”

Shanxi has also introduced the country’s first local regulations on the clean and efficient use of coal, promoted green, low-carbon and energy-saving technologies, and accelerated the formation of new energy consumption patterns, he said.

Over 90 percent of new buildings in Shanxi are green structures, with clean heating coverage in urban and rural areas exceeding 90 percent. All buses and taxis in urban areas of 11 cities in the province have been replaced with new energy vehicles.

In the first three years of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), Shanxi’s energy consumption intensity cumulatively dropped 10.9 percent, ranking first nationwide.

Zhuangshang in the city of Yuncheng became the first zero-carbon demonstration village in China, where people do not depend on the local power grid and rely solely on rooftop solar panels.

Wu said the province is further expanding its energy cooperation. It is cooperating with international organizations such as the Asian Development Bank and the European Investment Bank to implement a series of green and low-carbon development demonstration projects.

The inland province is also enhancing opening-up in more areas. Last month, a China-Europe freight train departing from the city of Jinzhong arrived in Barcelona, ​​Spain.

Jin Xiangjun, governor of Shanxi, said there are currently 15 regular China-Europe freight train routes operating in the province, reaching 48 cities in 16 countries.

“We’ve improved policies to support the export of bulk commodities, attracted the transfer of foreign manufacturing industries from eastern regions, and promoted innovation in the opening-up of service trade,” Jin said.

In addition, Shanxi is deepening cooperation with members of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and promoting multimodal transportation via road-rail, rail-sea and air-rail routes. It has increased the number of passenger routes between the province and Southeast Asia, Japan and South Korea, and expanded cargo routes to the United States and Europe.

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