China to convert coal into gas for urban energy needs

China has unveiled ambitious plans for the conversion of coal extracted in remote mining regions into gas for usage in urban areas.

The central government has given the go-ahead to four pilot projects situated in the peripheral northern provinces of Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Liaoning, with the hope of providing 15 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas per annum by 2015, equivalent to nearly 7% of total national demand.

The projects will see the conversion of coal, which the energy-voracious Asian giant possesses in abundance, into gas through the use of a mixture of indigenous and imported technologies.

According to the Economic Times the plans already enjoy the eager support of a broad swathe of industry participants, including coal miners, power producers, private corporations and state-owned giants.

State-run power giant Datang Group has already commenced the construction of China's first conversion plant in Inner Mongolia, which will have an annual capacity of 1.33 bcm upon completion of the pilot stage at the end of the year and a full capacity of 4 bcm by 2014.