China Focus: "Oriental Ruhr" reshapes industrial landscape

Source: Xinhua| 2020-05-13 19:12:52|Editor: huaxia

TAIYUAN, May 13 (Xinhua) -- 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.

"Shanxi had relied on resource-based economic growth. If it can find a path of transformation, its experience can be shared elsewhere in China," said Lin Boqiang, president of the China Institute for Studies in Energy Policy.

Since 2017, Shanxi has designated a reform demonstration zone with an area of 600 square km, cultivating new industries such as advanced manufacturing, new energy, new materials and electronic information.

The province boasts China's first production chain of a biological resin, which is a new synthesized material using lignin extracted from corn straw for making high-pressure gas cylinders, which are ultra-light and can be applied in fields such as firefighting and diving.

Figures from the Shanxi Provincial Bureau of Statistics show that in the past three years, the added value of new tech-driven industries in the province has increased by more than 10 percent annually, seven percentage points higher than that of the coal industry.

Meanwhile, in the coal mining sector, Shanxi has also led the country in innovations. China's largest hard coal producer Yangquan Coal Industry (Group) Co., Ltd. in Shanxi has finished building a 5G network in one of its mines, heralding the coming of the 5G era in the country's coal industry and paving the way for intelligent mining based on 5G technologies.

The 5G network in Yangquan's subsidiary, Xinyuan, is the country's first commercial 5G service under a coal mine shaft. It is built in partnership with China Mobile and Huawei.

Wang Haigang, deputy manager of Xinyuan, said the 5G network had been in stable operation for a week after its inauguration and optimization.

With the integrated 5G coverage, the data upload rate is above 800 Mbps and the transmission latency is less than 20 milliseconds in the mine, enabling a variety of applications such as high-definition audio and video communications and remote intelligent control of equipment to protect workers from the dangerous working environment, according to Yu Beijian, deputy general manager of Yangquan Coal Industry Group.

Yu said the company plans to further enrich the 5G application scenarios in coal mining. Enditem