"That's my idea. At Shanxi and Shaanxi, coal-to-oil and IGCC will be integrated into one system. In this regard, China is ahead of other nations. The US is only talking about this," he told me matter-of-factly over a cup of green tea.
The technology is expensive, but Xiao estimated that China could build and operate IGCC plants for about a third of the price of the US. In the near future, he predicted China would have to choose whether to invest primarily in supercritical plants, which burn coal efficiently, or IGCC facilities that dealt more effectively with carbon. The latter are more expensive, but price is not the only consideration. "The uncertainty of climate change constraints is a factor in deciding which plants we build," he said. "If we don't need to worry about CO2 emissions, then supercritical plants make more sense. But if we are concerned about carbon dioxide, then IGCC is the best. This is the big decision we must make in the next five to ten years . . . Sequestration will be the final solution for carbon dioxide control. But before that we should try other things."
Isn't the priority in the long term to reduce demand?" I asked.
He shrugged and smiled. "We cannot deny people a happy life. But we also must not deny future generations a happy life," I said.
"True," he replied.
From When a Billion Chinese Jump: How China Will Save Mankind--or Destroy It by Jonathan Watts. © 2010 Jonathan Watts. Reproduced by permission of Scribner.