A refuse-burning power plant, believed to be the largest in China, is to be constructed at Gao’antun, in the Chaoyang District of Beijing. It is expected to be finished by 2008 when the Olympic Games are to be held in the Chinese capital.

In line with an agreement to launch a special joint venture for construction of the power plant, the first of its kind in the capital, Golden State (Holding) Group Corp., a US registered company, will take a controlling stake in the joint venture. Xia Yong, investment supervisor-in-chief with the company, said the new power plant would cost 680 million yuan (US$81.93 million), of which, $45 million will be covered by loans provided by the government of Spain. Two refuse burning boilers, one power generator, with an installed generating capacity of 25 MW, as well as auxiliary equipment including emission controls, will be installed. The project was approved by the State Development Planning Commission in November 2000, but construction was postponed owing to a lack of capital, and public concern that the new power plant might become a source of pollution. However Li Huimin, senior engineer with North China Power Design Institute who led the feasibility study has strongly denied this, maintaining that the plant meets European standards set during 2000. Active carbon will be added to the flue treatment plant to absorb toxic gases and cancer-causing dioxins.

Beijing, with a population of 13 million, produces 11000 tonne of refuse daily, only 40 per cent of which is treated. The remainder is trucked to open ground in the suburbs, seriously polluting groundwater, air and soil and jeopardizing the health of residents.

Refuse burning power plants have taken off in other Chinese cities. Statistics show that a dozen such power plants have been built since 1992, when the country’s first plant was completed in Shenzhen, in south China’s Guangdong province.