|Buildings are blanketed in heavy smog near Guomao Bridge in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 28, 2013. According to Beijing environment monitoring data, the air quality of central area and southern parts of Beijing is heavily polluted from Sunday night to Monday. (Xinhua/Luo Xiaoguang)|
BEIJING, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- The replacement of coal-powered heating systems with electric and gas-fired versions is expected to bring more breathing space for Beijing residents this winter, a season when they have commonly suffered a recurrent choking smog in the past.
But heating quality will not be compromised even if the city's air pollution is heavy, said an official with the Beijing Municipal Commission of City Administration and Environment during a meeting on Thursday.
A heating plant in a research institute in the city's north has just bid farewell to heaps of coal that used to jam its entrance in winter. Residents of many city-center bungalows no longer face breaking out in a cold sweat over storing enough honeycomb briquettes against winter chills.
"We must complete our work in two weeks before the city's central heating supply kicks off," said Wang Cheng, an official from the State Grid Corporation of China, giving on-site orders in Xi'anfu Hutong for the "coal-to-electricity" project.
This scheme, launched in 2008 by the municipal government, aims to replace coal-burning stoves with electric heaters for residents living in bungalows.
A total of 440,000 such households in downtown areas will be upgraded to electric heating before Nov. 15, according to an action plan of the municipal government.
Over 2,000 workers from the State Grid are currently scattered across the city, busy installing equipment and constructing facilities.
"The room temperature is 10 celsius degrees higher compared with coal heating," said a bungalow resident surnamed Chen, whose indoor heating was upgraded last year.
Tan Daoliang, director of a neighborhood committee in Beijing's Xicheng District, calculated that an ordinary 20-square-meter bungalow needs 1,800 yuan (about 295 U.S. dollars) a year for coal-burning heating, and 1,900 yuan for electric heating.