woty wot hey

December 11th, 2013

Over at Public Address it’s Word of the Year time. All the nominations for WOTY are fair enough, but there’s one that I want but that doesn’t fit there, and I don’t know of any more appropriate place running a WOTY competition. So I’ll run my own. And I’ll win it, because there won’t be any other nominations accepted.

Here’s my word of the year:

And its standard English translation: Haze

Alright, so that’s two words, but it’s my competition, and I told you I’d make sure I’ll win it. But whatever, here’s why:

Back in January, when the air looked, smelled, tasted, and felt like it had been piped directly in from Hell’s chimney (and no, I don’t mean the Hell I’ve been to, that’s a nice place, at least in the summer), and the snow looked like it had been dusted with salt, pepper, and heavy fuel oil, I was taking a course in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language. All my classmates were Chinese – well, I found out later one was Singaporean Chinese, but still, I was the only non-Chinese in the room for the whole course. I had a habit of getting up ridiculously early, making some doujiang to get me through the trip up to the Bei Da East Gate, then get some breakfast and a copy of the Beijing News from the stands up there, before heading up to the classroom. One day I was staring at yet another full-page spread on the smog crisis wondering what the second character in “雾霾” was, a character I couldn’t find in my dictionary. One of my classmates, another member of a fairly tight group of five of us who sat at the front and worked pretty solidly together, asked what that character was. Another said, yeah, I was wondering about that too. My reply was, well, if you don’t know how should I know? I was quite bemused that they’d ask me this because Chinese is a language I started learning at 23 years of age, whereas they’d all started learning Chinese by the time they were 23 months old. But another member of this group piped up and said, oh, that’s mái, it means like this dirty stuff floating in the air.

Then, of course, the question turned to how to say 雾霾 in English, so I taught them the word “smog”, explaining that just as 雾霾 is a combination of perfectly ordinary fog (雾/wù) with dirty stuff hanging in the air, “smog” is a combination of “smoke” and “fog”.

And since then, of course, 霾 has been all over the place, on Weibo, in newspapers, on TV. There’s a new system of smog alerts, with set procedures for responding to each level of alert. Basically, it seems to me that January was the point when China finally decided, right, that’s enough, we have to clean this place up. And I think that’s a pretty sweet silver lining to what was a really foul cloud.

But that brings me to the standard translation: Haze. I don’t get it. It just doesn’t seem to fit. To me, haze could be natural or artificial. It could be clean, caused by just a light mist or salt spray in coastal areas on a windy day (can you tell I’m from Wellington?), or it could be dirty, caused by fires or industry. Haze just doesn’t seem to cut it. Every Chinese-Chinese dictionary I’ve checked makes it clear that 霾 is dirty stuff hanging in the air. The possibility of a natural source is left open – and fair enough when you’re living somewhere as dry and dusty as northern or western China. But it’s clearly dirty stuff. “Smog” may be a bit too harsh a translation, referring as it does to pollution caused artificially by burning things like fossil fuels combined with natural phenomena, but “haze”, to me, just doesn’t cut it. And besides, every time I see or here 霾, it is referring to what is undeniably smog.

So there you go, there’s my Word of the Year: 霾 and haze.

a pleasant surprise

March 28th, 2012

Well, after all that ranting, what do I find? NZ and China – sustainable together. I came across this a bit late last night to do anything more than make a note of the link and have a read, but it’s nice to not be ranting all the time.

Now, perhaps that’s a bit too much of a pendulum swing, but it is nice to see, given the gaping lack of China coverage, an article examining ways in which China and New Zealand can work in ways that are, to perhaps steal a bit too much CCP-speak, mutually beneficial. I particularly like the focus on green tech and the environment. It strikes me that that is certainly one (of many) areas where the two could certainly learn a lot from each other.


So I just came across a rumour on Weibo suggesting that in the very near future Beijing will end its licence plate lottery system and instead move to odds/evens traffic restrictions. I note that the author ends with:


(I heard it’ll be implemented before Spring Festival, don’t know if it’s true or not. Seeking verification!)

So, a rumour. But it reminds me of something I read in 新京报/The Beijing News yesterday, something that was absolutely fascinating in subject matter but dead boring in its molasses-like bureaucratic boilerplate writing: Plans to end licence plate lotteries and traffic restrictions for new energy vehicles. The Ministries of Science and Technology, Finance and Industry and Information Technology and the Development and Reform Commission have issued a 《关于进一步做好节能与新能源汽车示范推广试点工作的通知》Notice on Furthering Energy Saving and New Energy Vehicle Demonstration and Promotion Test Site Work. And yes, I do hate translating bureaucratese. But in addition to a ban on measures to limit vehicles such as licence plate auctions or lotteries and traffic restrictions and a requirement for the test cities to put out policies to support the purchase and use of energy saving and new energy vehicles, the article also has some interesting numbers:

  • China currently has 25 New Energy Vehicle Demonstration and Promotion Test Cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Dalian and Guangzhou.
  • Test cities must plan for the construction of basic electricity charging facilities, with carparks at residential areas or work places equipped with electricity charging posts, with a ratio of said posts to new energy vehicles no less than 1:1. Special parks with charging equipment must also be installed in shopping centre, hospital, and other public carparks and rapid charging facilities covering the whole demonstration are must be built.
  • By the end of the year the State Grid will have built 75 electricity charging stations and over 6000 electricity charging posts in 27 provinces and municipalities. 400 electric car charging stations will have been built by 2016, and ten thousand between 2016 and 202o.
  • (alright, no numbers in this bullet point) Test cities must cancel discriminatory policies favouring local manufacturers over those from other regions, and cities that do not meet the standards in the end of year inspection will lose their test city status.

And then the article looks at the situation in Beijing: Under the “10.25” plan for the automotive industry, it should hopefully be ruled that buyers of purely electric vehicles will not need to take part in the licence plate lottery, but will instead be able to get licence plates directly. Over the next five years Beijing will strongly promote hybrid, purely electric and other new energy vehicles, reaching over 40 thousand on the roads, while striving to scrap 400 thousand old motor vehicles. The city has no firm statement on whether or not purely electric vehicles will face traffic restrictions (but hang on a minute, aren’t traffic restrictions on new energy vehicles banned?), but subsidies of up to 120 thousand yuan per vehicle will be available for the purchase of purely electric cars.

Now there’s plenty more in there that I skipped over, and quite possibly points that I missed or misunderstood (I really hate wading through bureaucratese!), but all in all very interesting news. As for that rumour, it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense if Beijing is one of the test cities and is supposed to be promoting energy saving and new energy vehicles and is not allowed to have any licencing or traffic restrictions on such vehicles. We shall see.

intriguing sight

July 30th, 2011

“How could you have not seen this earlier?” you may ask, “after all, Badaling Township is at the southeastern gateway to Yanqing and straddles the shortest route from southern Chaoyang out to your village!” and my answer is that my usual route out to our little village in the northwest of Yanqing takes me through Kangzhuang, thence across what should be the reservoir (it’s a touch on the dry side), and so on the way out I don’t see a lot of the Badaling Township area. On the way back in I follow a variation on that same route, the variation being that I have to take the village road from Kangzhuang to Xibozi to get on the expressway, the Kangzhuang onramp only allowing one to head out towards Zhangjiakou. That variation of the route lets me see a little more of Badaling Township, but not enough to have seen this intriguing sight until about a quarter to twelve this morning.

And now, having jumped the gun, I have you asking “Wait! What intriguing sight? What on earth are you on about?”

A tower, under construction, rising maybe a kilometre to the west of the road from the expressway directly into Yanqing county town. Beams of light, visible thanks to the same haze that hung over Beijing this morning sitting also over the Yanqing basin, shining from the ground up to a point slightly above the height the tower had reached.

“And how, pray tell, could a construction site get you so excited? How long have you lived in China? You’re still not used to the sight of China’s national bird, the construction crane, after all these years? And beams of light shining up from the ground?! I know you didn’t sleep well last night, but if that’s the state you’re in, should you have been in charge of a motor vehicle?!”

Oh, so you’ve forgotten. Understandable, it was two and a half years ago that I badly translated an article I’d come across announcing:

Asia’s first megawatt-level solar powered tower-style thermal electricity generation technology project

will be installed in Yanqing County’s Badaling Township. This experimental solar-powered tower-style electricity generation plant will have an annual generation capacity reaching 2.7 million, equivalent to the generation capacity of over 1100 tons of standard coal and cutting emissions of carbon dioxide by over 2300 tons, sulphur dioxide by 21 tons, and oxides of nitrogen by 35 tons.

The tower I saw was too thin to be used for offices or apartments, and the idea of a highrise of any kind in that location – or even in the county town! – seems absurd. And beams of light shining up from the ground? Heliostats! Awesome!

Umm, yes, so that article I found way back in 2009, and it said:

When construction is completed and the site is online in 2010

Yeah, well, I’ve been looking out for this solar power electricity plant for two and a half years now… I hope what I saw today was a delayed construction of that plant, I really do. I wasn’t able this morning to wander off and try for a closer look, as I’d only taken the county town exit because I had to pick up my brother in law and help him cart some stuff out to the village, and I’m struggling to find any up-to-date news on this long-promised plant. But I’m thinking of ways I could, if nothing else intervenes, perhaps try for a closer look on Monday morning on the way back to Beijing. But at the very least, there are a variety of ways I can vary my route to and from the village so that I can keep an eye on this construction site, and I will be keeping an eye on it, and I certainly do hope it turns into the promised solar power tower.

more electrics

July 15th, 2011

Yeah, I know, I’ve been silent a long time. I’ve been insanely busy. Trust me on that, cos I don’t want to revisit the details.

So it seems I’ve finally got a bit of time. Not much, and I can’t stray far from Beijing, but a bit of time. And I used it to open up The Beijing News/新京报 and I find more apparently to do with electric cars. Apparently they’re about to build 10 electricity charging stations for electric vehicles between Beijing and Tianjin along two of the major expressways between Beijing and Tianjin, the Beijing-Tianjin Expressway and the Beijing-Tianjin section of the Beijing-Shanghai Expressway.

Now, I’m in the midst of the good kind of busy-ness, the kind I enjoy out here in Yanqing with my daughter. I’m sneaking a chance to write this as she’s asleep instead of awake demanding toys or stories or nursery rhymes or some kind of attention. But my reading of this article has been seriously disrupted, so I apologise and welcome corrections if I get anything wrong in this post.

One of the linguistic issues I have with the article is the use of the word 电动车. In my experience, that usually refers to the electric bicycles and scooters that have become so popular. But the intercity and expressway context suggests to me that perhaps we’re looking at electric cars, perhaps a step up building on Yanqing County’s electric taxis. Another linguistic issue lies in the headline: 乘用车充换电站. I think that may be explained, if perhaps a tad indirectly, by this:


In the development of electric vehicles in China over the last few years, there has been a constant debate between the “recharging on the scene as key” and “changing batteries as key” technological paths.

Yeah, I know, that’s the roughest-arse translation ever since I sat in the old John Bull pub and got chatting to a guy (North American from memory, but this was a long time ago, obviously) based in Shijiazhuang who claimed to be a translator, but, on seeing the opening ceremony of a Tianjin municipal sports meeting on the telly, couldn’t figure out that the characters “河东区”, “河西区”, “和平区” referred to the names of various districts of Tianjin and were introducing the teams from those districts. Alright, I had a slight advantage, working in Tianjin at the time, but still… Back to the cars: are we going to recharge or swap batteries? The phrase 乘用车充换电站 would seem to leave both options open for passenger vehicles travelling between Beijing and Tianjin.

I note also the intention to, using Beijing as a centrepoint, build a network of recharging stations around the Bohai Sea, because, as vice-chairman of marketing of the Beijing branch of National Grid notes:


The range of electric vehicles is rather short, and they’re generally not suited to long-distance travel. But if we build recharging/battery changing stations on intercity expressways, we can greatly expand the range of use of electric vehicles.

The other really big takeaway I get from this article is that based on the 8 recharging stations already in existence (apparently – I can attest that based on the persistence of Yanqing’s electric taxis the Yanqing station is for real. The others I have yet to see), the National Grid is going to build within 5 years a total of 466 recharging/battery recycling stations, of which 385 will be open to the public. Of those 385 – and here I will have to be very careful:


Nah, I dunno… 175 will be charging/battery changing stations and 210 will be battery distribution stations? Help?

Sorry, but I really am very worn out and I’m going to have to leave it at this. All I’m going to say is that I find Yanqing’s electric taxis very encouraging, and I take further encouragement from this article.

electric taxis

May 20th, 2011

So as it turns out, it’s actually old news, dating back to March 1 this year, but nobody had told me, I hadn’t seen them in the news, and I saw them ‘in the flesh’ for the first last weekend – and then was too busy this week to follow up on them.

Yanqing County has electric taxis. Purely electric, that is, none of these half-arsed hybrid jobbies. The real thing.

So late last Friday afternoon as we were on our way out to the village we pulled up at the back of a queue at a red light – from memory, at the north end of Nancaiyuan, the last traffic light before the Gui River on the way in to the county town from the Badaling direction. We were waiting to turn left and scoot along the south bank of the river before crossing the new little bridge and zipping along the back road, a much shorter route than the old G110, although it is becoming more and more popular, unfortunately. And just up ahead of us in the queue was a taxi.

That’s not unusual. A lot of people from Yanqing work as taxi drivers in Beijing and many of them pay for their trips home working the queue for the 919 rounding up people who would rather pay a little extra than wait for the bus. But this was an entirely different kind of taxi. It was in a pale blue and white livery of an entirely different pattern from the regular Beijing taxi livery, for starters. More importantly, instead of the usual Citroen ZX, VW Jetta or Hyundai Elantra or any of their larger cousins, this was an entirely new vehicle (well, to my eyes), the same basic shape as your traditional London cab, but clearly a new design. And with Beijing licence plates and signs clearly identifying it with Yanqing, it obviously wasn’t one of those occasional taxis that floats in from Hebei or Tianjin. And then I was told, “Oh, these new taxis are all electric”. Indeed, they move with only the faintest of electric motor whining sounds. And having spent a bit of time around the county town last weekend, and again this morning, I’ve seen a lot of them around.

Well, there should be 50 of them, Foton  according to the article linked to above, which also informs us:

据了解,迷迪纯电动出租车最大输出功率60千瓦,百公里耗电15千瓦时,在城市正常路面满电续航里程为140公里。采用快速充电桩半小时可充满80%的电 量。按照北京市出租车年平均行驶10万公里计算,对比燃油车,每年在花费上可节省3万余元,并且每辆纯电动车减少的二氧化碳相当于每年种植1100多棵 树。

Most of that is covered in this article, which is the best I’ve found in English so far:

As introduced, the Midi electric taxis are self-developed by Beiqi-Foton, BAIC’s commercial vehicle arm, and have a peak output power of 60 kW and an electric consumption of 15 kWh per 100 km each. All the vehicles are equipped with a Global Positioning System (GPS) which is connected to the company’s control center where the taxis can be scheduled and monitored.

Currently, a charging station installed with 25 charging poles with a floor area of 2,205 square meters has been built at Yanqing. By using a magnetic card for self-charging, it takes six to eight hours for the taxi to be fully charged in a slow charging mode but a half-hour of quick charging can electrify the car to 80 percent.

But those two articles diverge on their approach to cost, with the Chinese one pointing out that based on the average Beijing taxi running 100 thousand kilometres per year, the electric taxis can save over 30 thousand yuan in expenses and provide a reduction in CO2 emissions equivalent to planting 1100 trees per year.

The Chinese article is better in that it places Yanqing’s electric taxis in the context of Beijing’s plan to push new energy vehicles:



According to Beijing Municipality’s “Green movement plan”, by 2012, will have 5000 new energy vehicles in demonstration use in fields such as public transport, environmental protection and taxis, and will encourage enterprises to set up “green fleets” for transportation, forming a 30 thousand-strong goods distribution “green fleet” by 2012. At the same time, Beijing will encourage private citizens to buy new energy vehicles, with the highest subsidy per vehicle being 120 thousand yuan.

According to reports, in the next 3 years Beijing will build 36,000 slow-charging electricity poles, 100 fast-charging recharging stations, 1 battery replacement station and 2 battery recycling processing stations.

And to that, all I can say is:




not just heat

July 7th, 2010

It’s not just heat that’s been on the way up recently, but water use, too. According to 北京晚报/Beijing Evening News, Beijing has set a new record for water supplied to the city. Twice. Well, a record for “so far this year”, followed by a “most ever”. But first, a clarification: This article is dated July 6, so where it says “yesterday”, it means July 5. It only showed up in my Kaixin001 feed this morning. Anyway, here’s the record setting:

市自来水集团介绍,在7月4日城区日供水量达268万立方米创出今年新高后,昨天市区日供水量达286万立方米,超过去年夏季278万立方米的历史最高日 供水量,也创出北京百年供水史上最高水平,已接近市区的日供水能力。统计数据显示,昨天高时供水量出现在9时到10时,1小时供水量达16.48万立方 米。

The municipal water supply group said that after the amount of water supplied to the urban area reached 2.68 million cubic metres on July 4, setting a new record for this year, yesterday the amount of water supplied to the city area reached 2.86 million cubic metres, breaking the historic record set last summer of 2.78 million cubic metres of water supplied in one day, setting the record for the largest amount supplied in Beijing’s 100-year history of mains water supply, approaching the maximum amount that can be supplied to the city. Statistics show that yesterday’s peak water use was betwen 9 and 10, with 164,800 cubic metres supplied in one hour.

[Yes, as always, I have played it a bit fast and loose with aspects of the translation. Corrections and improvements are welcome]

Apparently demand for water is so high that the water supply group is considering limiting water supply to certain industries for the duration.

Now, I’ve said it a million times before, and I’ll probably repeat it several million more times, but one of the things that worries me most about Beijing’s future is water:

北京连续十年干旱,虽然今年降水多于往年,但是密云水库的蓄水量反而低于往年。今天上午,密云水库的蓄水量为9.4亿立方米,比去年同期减少2.4亿立方 米。此前不久,来自河北三座水库的2亿立方米水,经过南水北调京石段工程持续进入北京。河北水抵达北京团城湖后,经过管道进入市自来水厂,加工过滤后进入 千家万户。市自来水集团称:“目前北京自来水管网中三分之一的水是河北用水。管道中的每一滴自来水都非常珍贵,希望市民要珍惜使用。”

After Beijing’s 10 years of continuous drought, although precipitation has been higher this year, the amount of water stored in the Miyun Reservoir is actually lower than in previous years. This morning, Miyun Reservoir held 940 million cubic metres of water, 240 million cubic metres less than at the same time last year. Not long ago, 200 million cubic metres of water from three reservoirs in Hebei entered Beijing via the Beijing-Shijiazhuang section of the South-North Water Diversion Project. After Hebei water reaches Beijing’s Tuancheng Hu, it is piped into a municipal water treatment plant, and then after treatment and filtering enters the city’s households. The municipal water supply group said, “Currently a third of the water in the city’s pipe network is from Hebei. Every drop of water in the pipes is very precious. We hope the citizens will cherish it.”

I certainly do not like the look of those numbers.

Anyways, that’s enough breakfast-time blogging and dodgy as hell translation. I do still have exam papers awaiting grades.

Inner Mongolian wind

October 3rd, 2009

Just came across an interesting article on Newenergy.org.cn: Apparently Inner Mongolia’s wind power industry is taking off, with installed capacity already No. 1 in China. Wang Yutian and Bai Bing report:


Following the setlling of a large group of windpower projects and turbine equipment factories in Inner Mongolia, that region’s windpower industry has been rapidly developing. Inner Mongolia currently has an installed grid-connected windpower capacity of 3 million megawatts through the whole region, with a total completed investment approaching 40 billion yuan, accounting for one quarter of China’s installed windpower capacity, leaping into first place in China.


According to the head of the High Technology Office of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Development and Reform Commission, Meng Qinglong, in recent years Inner Mongolia’s windpower industry has developed more rapidly. In 2007 and 2008 Inner Mongolia’s completed windpower hoisted capacity grew by 175% and 142% over the previous year, quickly forming the scale of the industry. It is predicted Inner Mongolia’s installed windpower capacity will reach 5 million megawatts by the end of the year.

And here I will admit defeat. I just cannot figure out this sentence: “与此同时,风电产业呈规模化发展趋势。”, and besides, the rest of that paragraph is just a city-by-city breakdown of windpower capacity, installed and under construction. Chifeng leads the way with a million megawatts installed already, and a bunch of other cities including Baotou and Tongliao in the 350 to 800 thousand megawatt range. And what’s under construction takes the total up to 5.9 million megawatts.

The final paragraph begins by stating that Inner Mongolia’s level of operational management of windpower has been unceasingly growing, but I can’t see how they prove it. Not that I doubt that statement, I just don’t see the relevance of the supporting sentences. Maybe that’s because I’m an English teacher, not an electrical engineer. Whatever, it does say that at the end of April, Inner Mongolia had 3.5 million megawatts of windpower connected to the grid, of which 2.24 million megawatts is fed into the Inner Mongolian grid (7.3% of the capacity tracked by the regional grid), 1.1 million megawatts into Northeast China, and 160 thousand megawatts into the Northwest.

Puff piece? Advertorial? Smells like it, but I don’t know. I don’t really think it matters, either. What matters is the rapid development of windpower in Inner Mongolia, and if there’s any truth to the reported numbers, what’s happening out there is looking very good.

Got an old car in Beijing? You could claim a subsidy for scrapping it and buying a new one, according to this report in 新京报/The Beijing News. Wei Xuezhen reports:


Beijing starts “replacing old cars with new”


Applications formally accepted from the 24, to be carried out simultaneously with the “yellow sticker” vehicle elimination policy.


The Beijing municipal Finance Bureau, Commerce Committee, and Environmental Protection Bureau together announced yesterday that the replacing of old cars with new will formally begin, that from the 24 of this month applications from car owners will be formally accepted. The person responsible at the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau said that the replacing of old with new and the policy to eliminate and update yellow sticker vehicles would be carried out at the same time, and that previous differences would be subsidised.

Alright, I have no idea what “此前的差额部分将进行补贴” is on about. I would assume that there is some inequity in the two policies and that the authorities might be worried about people who’ve already scrapped their yellow sticker vehicles might be a bit put out to see people claiming these new subsidies getting more money than them. My assumption would seem justified, but:


Making up the difference so car owners “don’t lose out”.

按照规定,在2010年5月31日之前,报废使用不到8年的老旧微型载货车、老旧中型出租载客车,使用不到12年的老旧中、轻型载货车、出租车以外的老旧 中型载客车以及提前报废“黄标车”,并换购新车的,根据报废车型可享受3000-6000元不等的补贴。北京市环保局表示,由于今年年初,北京市率先实施 了鼓励黄标车淘汰政策措施,因此目前两项政策将同时进行。

According to the regulations, car owners who scrap and replace before 31 May 2010 old mini commercial vehicles and old minibuses used for up to 8 years, medium and light commercial vehicles and mid-sized passenger vehicles other than taxis used for up to 12 years as well as owners of “yellow sticker vehicles” already scrapped, and who then buy new vehicles can according to the type of vehicle scrapped enjoy subsidies varying from 3000 to 6000 yuan.  The Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau said that because Beijing took the lead in implementing measures to encourage the scrapping of “yellow sticker vehicles” at the beginning of the year, these two policies would be carried out simultaneously.


Yesterday assistant head of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau Du Shaozhong said that because the overall level of the subsidies to eliminate yellow sticker vehicles was higher than that of the policy to replace old cars with new, and a small number of subsidies for vehicle types eliminated was lower than the subsidies to replace old vehicles with new, differences between the two policies would be patched up so that car owners would not lose out. According to the regulations, yellow sticker vehicles could be subsidised up to 25000 yuan depending on vehicle type.

Two things:

  1. I wound up relying on Baidu’s image search to figure out what the different types of vehicles mentioned are exactly, and I couldn’t see a difference between “中型出租载客车” and “出租车以外的老旧 中型载客车”. They all look like minibuses to me.
  2. It would seem, but I’m not sure, that some of those who have already scrapped yellow sticker vehicles got 25000 yuan in subsidies, while others got less than the 3000 yuan minimum subsidy under the new policy. I have no idea what the authorities are actually going to do about the differences in subsidies under the two policies, but I would be surprised if the government tried to claim back the difference from those who got more than 6000 yuan under the old policy, and I assume that those who got less under the old policy than the would have under the new one will be given a top-up. Or maybe I’m being too optimistic, I don’t know.

The rest of the article is about how to go about claiming the subsidies. I’m going to assume that those eligible for the subsidies read about them in the original Chinese-language reports and would not be reading anything on this blog (I may be wrong, but the types of vehicle mentioned….). It also says the Environmental Protection Bureau hopes to get an extra 20 or 30 thousand dirty cars off the streets.

So it’s been a while since I translated anything for this blog. 新京报/The Beijing News has a good reason to start translating again on their newly, nicely redesigned site: Beijing is going to subsidise geothermal heating:


Government to subsidise use of geothermal energy for heating

Ugh… That was an ugly mangling of the headline. Nevermind…


Beijing’s underground thermal energy could heat up to 1 billion square metres, reaching 2020’s planned target.

And it just gets uglier…. I’m way out of practice, aren’t I?

Anyways, Jiang Yanxin reports:


The government will provide subsidies of 30 to 50 yuan per square metre to developers in communities that adopt geothermal heating. A report released yesterday by the Beijing Municipal Geological Prospecting Bureau revealed that the heat energy contained in the shallow strata beneath Beijing’s plain area could supply heat to 959 million square metres, a huge potential. It is reported that this kind of large-scale resource appraisal is a world first.


Thermal energy reaches 2020’s heating target.


Yesterday the municipal Geological Prospecting Bureau released its report Geological Prospecting Report on Shallow Strata Thermal Energy Resources in Beijing’s Plains Area, completed over three years.


The report revealed that the thermal energy contained in the shallow strata from 3 metres to 150 metres below Beijing’s plains area amounts to 66.2 million tons of standard coal per year. In winter the equivalent of 15.3 million tons of standard coal could be used, supplying heat to an area of 959 million square metres.  This comes very close to the goal of Beijing Municipality’s overall plan to supply heat to a total area of 1 billion square metres by 2020.

Alright, I’m going to omit a definition that, even if it were rendered into good English by a competent translator (i.e. not me), would still give me a migraine. But to make it worse, puzzling out that long, complicated sentence makes it seem like the definition is so blindingly obvious it would only be necessary in a text for primary school kids. And besides, the word ‘troposphere‘ makes me think of a large ball whose inhabitants are all a bit nutty (hey, wait, that’s a pretty good description of Earth), and yet I can’t figure out why the lowest portion of the Earth’s atmosphere would be mentioned in a definition of the geothermal resources in question- last I checked, all of the Earth’s crust sits below the all of its atmosphere, except when things like volcanic eruptions and meteorite strikes send small parts of it flying.

Anyway, continuing:


The person responsible at the municipal Geological Prospecting Bureau said that using shallow strata geothermal energy is about 10 yuan cheaper than using regular gas as it is renewable, making it both environmentally friendly and energy saving.

Alright, skipping over a restatement of the 30 to 50 yuan/m2 subsidies offered to developers to encourage them to use geothermal heating, and actually, just picking the one or two interesting bits left in the article:


Currently Beijing has 13 million square metres of construction using shallow strata geothermal heating and cooling.

Yeah, cooling too. I have only the vaguest idea of the physics, but I have heard before that in the summer you can throw the whole thing in reverse and pump the heat back underground.


In addition, considering the possible influences of resource exploitation on the environment, the municipal Geological Prospecting Bureau has already built two monitoring stations and over 20 collecting points to monitor the influence of exploitation. Once geothermal energy is used on a large scale, Beijing will consider establishing 20 monitoring stations and over 1000 collecting points to carry out monitoring and ensure safe exploitation.

Alright, so I’m building up a good track record of thoroughly mangled translations here…. Anyway, it’s cool to see that Beijing has such awesome potential for geothermal heating of the city’s buildings, that the government is encouraging it’s use, and that the relevant authorities will monitor the effects of its use on the environment. Cleaner heating can only be a good thing.