Huadian Pingjiang coal-fired power station, Hunan, China

More than 10,000 people demonstrate against a large coal-fired power plant at Pingjiang, holding banners with remarks of “President Xi: We do not want the short-term development at the cost of ecological environment“


Pingjiang is a county in Hunan province, China, it is under the administration of Yueyang City. The county is located on the eastern margin of the province, the Miluo River runs through the county from east to west. Pingjiang is one of the birthplaces of the Chinese revolution. In the Chinese Civil War, it was a part of the Hunan-Hubei-Jiangxi Revolutionary Base Area (湘鄂赣革命根据地), and, from 1931 November, of the Hunan-Hubei-Jiangxi Soviet (湘鄂赣苏维埃) [1]. In 2013, the popular TV show “Dad,Where Are We Going?” produced by Hunan TV chose Pingjiang as one of their filming sites because of its beautiful natural ecological environment and the well-preserved local traditional culture[2]. As a national ecological demonstration area and green industry demonstration area, people in Pingjiang are proud of the country scene with green mountains and blue rivers.   Huadian Pingjiang Power Plant was planned along with the "Inner Mongolia-Central China" coal transportation channel, which is a freight railroad and its Yueyang - Ji'an section passes through Pingjiang County, providing a fundamental condition for coal-fired power station[3].   In May 2013, Pingjiang County Government signed an agreement with China Huadian Corporation’s Hunan Subsidiary to construct a large thermal power plant. According to the media, Pingjiang Thermal Plant of China Huadian Corporation was ranked No.1 in the appraisal results for large thermal power projects of Hunan province in 2014[4]. This means that the comprehensive assessment of Pingjiang Thermal Plant has gained high acceptance of the appraisal experts in multiple respects such as the design scheme and environmental protection measures. Under the circumstances where there is conflicting information, the “No.1” result caused the local masses who hold a dissenting opinion to become more worried. Moreover, the negative information on China Huadian Corporation – the cooperation party of Pingjiang Thermal Power Plant - increased the anxiety of the opponents.   Public reports show that on July 1-15, 2014, China Huadian Corporation was criticized by name in three supervision reports from the National Energy Administration and National Development and Reform Commission because its subsidiaries engaged in illegal construction and secret discharge of pollutants[5]. “We fear that after arriving in Pingjiang, this thermal power plant will similarly secretly discharge pollutants, polluting our beautiful environment,” said an opponent.   In July 2014, more than 20,000 people signed to oppose the Huadian Pingjiang project in the county level poll. More people are voting to against the project through online channels[6].   On the morning of September 18, more than 1,000 people started a protest in Pingjiang County, displaying a banner saying: “death by poisoning is worse than starving to death.” They marched, sat-in, hunger striked, and protested the local Huadian Group large thermal power plant. They continued until the evening of 19 September, and many citizens participated. They marched to the city government and sat-in. Participants reported that more than 10,000 people participated. On the same day, Shenzhen in Guangdong Province also had a group of Pingjiang people march in support[7].   Finally, on September 2014, the county party committee and county government of Pingjiang County issued a public notice, announcing that they were halting the thermal power project of China Huadian Corporation in Pingjiang; cancelling the command of preliminary work on the project; abolishing the documents on the thermal power project, and terminating all work on this thermal power project. The party secretary of Pingjiang County, Tian, resigned right after the large-scale opposition activity[8]. After the opposition, the County government organized many activities to persuade people that the coal-fired power plant will be clean and not to harm the local environment, including the public hearings and advocacy by fellow townsmen outside Pingjiang as well as a webpage to communicate with people about related information and knowledge.     In March 2015, after the complementary feasibility study, the final site of the plant was changed from the original place with first priority to East of Fan’gu Village, Yuping Township[9]. On December 29, 2015, the construction work of the plant and resettlement area started in Fan’gu Village[10].  

Basic Data
NameHuadian Pingjiang coal-fired power station, Hunan, China
SitePingjiang, Yueyang
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Thermal power plants
Specific CommoditiesLand
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsSponsor: China Huadian Corporation

Location: Fangu Village, Yuping Town, Pingjiang County, Yueyang Prefecture, Hunan Province, China

Coordinates: 28.809024, 113.532409 (main plant)

Status: Under Construction

Gross capacity: 2,000 MW (Units 1 & 2: 1,000 MW, Phase I)

Type: Ultra-Supercritical

Projected in service: 2017(old plan), 13th five-year plan (revised)

Coal consumption: 3.65 mt/y (revised according to the new feasibility report)

Coal type: Longde, Xiaojihan

Coal source: Shenmu and Yulin in Northern Shaanxi

Water consumption: 16.18 M cubic meter per year for 4,800 work hours
Project Area (in hectares)76.52
Level of Investment (in USD)1,160,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Populationdirectly affect 2500-10000 people, potentially affect 1 million
Start Date18/09/2014
End Date21/09/2014
Company Names or State EnterprisesChina Huadian Corporation (Huadian) from China
Relevant government actorsPingjiang County Government
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
fellow villagers and townsmen working in other cities
Forms of MobilizationMedia based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Hunger strikes and self immolation
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Mine tailing spills
OtherNegative impacts on rice, peanuts and soybean fields, fisheries, etc.
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Potential: Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseStrengthening of participation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project temporarily suspended
Site of the project shifted to an alternative location
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.After the protest, the project was temporarily stopped by the local government, however, it was not admitted by Huadian. The Party secretary of the county resigned due to the conflict. Another complementary feasibility study with EIA was done after the protest. More transparency and communications about the coal-fired power plant with the public; investments in Environment facilities increased in the project. The protest was county-wide, while the final site was one of the firstly selected options but not the first priority of the original plan.
Sources and Materials

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[8] 田自力
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[5] 15天被3次通报 华电集团连登“黑榜”
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[9] 湖南华电平江电厂新建工程补充可行性研究总报告(节选版)
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[10] 华电平江电厂工程项目启动暨安置区开工
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[7] More than 10,000 people demonstrate against a large thermal-electric plant
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Other Documents

Protest banners "Rather starved than poisoned to death."

“President Xi: We do not want the short-term development at the cost of ecological environment“

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Protest at Peng Dehuai Square
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Meta Information
ContributorEnvjustice, ICTA
Last update19/04/2017