China's Henan province to switch more homes from coal heating in 2019: media

FILE PHOTO: A poster showing Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen in front of the Xinyuan Steel plant in Anyang, Henan province, China, February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s central province of Henan plans to convert more households to gas- or electricity-powered heating from coal in 2019 to further improve its air quality.

It aims to replace coal-fired heaters in 2 million households with natural gas or electric systems by the end of this year, the provincial government-backed Henan Daily reported on Wednesday. That compares to 1.124 million household in 2018.

The industrial province is one of the most polluted regions in China. Five of its cities were included among the country’s 20 worst performing cities in cleaning its air during the first half of 2019 that was published by the environmental ministry.

The Henan government will also ban coal burning in the plain regions of the province, except at coal-fired power plants and at central heating systems, before the winter heating season in 2020, the Henan Daily reported.

The province plans to allocate more funds and attract more public capital to subsidize residents, especially in rural areas, for the fuel substitution process, the newspaper said.

With Beijing’s push to reduce coal burning, nearly 13 million households in northern China have switched to electric- or gas-heating since 2016.

The central government has not published 2019 target on coal substitution across the country. But Hebei province, China’s top steelmaking hub, has pledged to convert 1.8 million households to electric- and gas-heating energy from coal burning this year.

Coal heating, especially the dirty bulk coal used in residential houses, is considered one of the major sources of air pollution in winter.

Reporting by Muyu Xu and Tom Daly; editing by Christian Schmollinger