China Power Suppliers Face Heavy Fines For Failing to Use Desulfurization Technology

By Michael Standaert  

July 15 — China has fined several major coal-fired power plants for failing to remove sulfur dioxide from emissions, as required by law, even while they took government subsidies to fund the desulfurization process.

Ten coal-fired power plants were fined a total of 158 million yuan ($25.4 million) for failing to fully operate required desulfurization technology at their plants, the government said July 15.

Yangcheng International Power Generation Co. Ltd. in Shanxi province was fined the most, 125,588,000 yuan ($20 million), for failing to operate desulfurization facilities for the required amount of time at four of its coal-fired units last year. Those units ran the desulfurization technology—which is meant to operate constantly—only between 62 percent and 80 percent of the time the plants were functioning, the government said in a joint statement by the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

The next highest penalties were levied against Inner Mongolia Power Co. Ltd., at 17 million yuan ($2.7 million); and Donghua Baotou Thermal Power Co. Ltd., at 5,832,500 yuan ($939,000).

While only 10 coal-fired power plants were named, the government said it has levied a total of 519 million yuan ($84 million) in fines and penalties for violations of desulfurization rules across the country.

Air Pollution Crackdown

Desulfurization is the process of removing sulfur dioxide from the exhaust at power plants that burn coal or other fossil fuels. China has been dealing with some of the world's worst air pollution, and exposure to sulfur dioxide emissions has been linked to breathing problems.

Nineteen facilities were publicly named in a similar audit in a June 12 announcement, though fine amounts were not disclosed at that time.

In a separate announcement, Beijing municipality said July 15 that it had levied 1.6 million yuan ($258,000) in fines against 96 facilities related to catering or construction in July, under air pollution control ordinances there, primarily for failing to treat waste gas.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection also released a list of all desulfurization and denitrification facilities installed at coal-fired power units and certain steel and cement production facilities.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Standaert in Shenzhen, China, at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Greg Henderson at

The government statement on fines for the coal-fired power plants is available. in Chinese. at\MEP.

The government's list of desulfurization and denitrification technology installed at coal-fired plants and other facilities is available, in Chinese, at