Fight is on to keep up with electricity needs

Updated: 2011-06-14 08:03

By Du Juan (China Daily)

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 Fight is on to keep up with electricity needs

A power station in Huaibei, Anhui province. Many provinces, including Jiangsu and Zhejiang in southern China, have suffered from power shortages since early April. Xie Zhengyi / for China Daily

Nation to fast-track construction of coal-fired power generating plants

BEIJING - China will accelerate the construction of coal-fired power stations to deliver electricity to areas short of power, and a group of the stations will be put into use this summer, the National Energy Administration (NEA) said on Monday.

"The power stations that are under construction have a generating capacity of 180 million kilowatts (kW)," said Xu Yongsheng, director of the power industry department of the NEA. "The government will speed up the examination and approval of these projects and put them into use ahead of schedule."

Xu said the rapid growth of power demand is the main cause of the power shortage in the country. But the previous drought in South China, increased coal prices and reduced coal imports also contributed to the shortage, he added.

Many provinces, including Jiangsu and Zhejiang in southern China, have suffered from power shortages since early April, and many places experienced tight power supplies in the first five months of the year.

According to China Electricity Council statistics, the country's total industrial power consumption was 1,090 billion kilowatt-hours in the first four months of the year, growth of 12 percent year-on-year. The newly built coal-fired generating capacity during that period was 3.88 million kW less than last year's.

Nationally, precipitation in April was 50 percent less than the average level of the past years, causing a 20 percent reduction of water-power production growth.

Supplying power is more complicated this summer and will be challenging in some regions, Liu Tienan, deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said during a video conference on June 10.

He said that local governments and coal companies should increase coal supplies during the summer to ensure power generation.

Many industry analysts have said high coal prices have frustrated power plants, which lose money by continuing to generate power while paying a high price for the resource.

"The government should control thermal coal prices for a short period to ease the severe power shortage," said Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University.

The government has asked the coal producing provinces to accelerate coal company mergers and reorganizations, in order to increase production capacity to meet the demand needed to generate power, according to the NEA.

The NEA will make it a priority to supervise the price of thermal coal, trying to keep it affordable for the power generating plants.

On June 1, China raised the price of electricity for industrial use by 0.0167 yuan (0.25 cents) a kilowatt-hour in 15 regions to ease the power shortage, aiming to discourage the increasing power demand of the high-energy-consuming companies.

The NEA said the government will work hard on eliminating outdated capacities in steel and cement production to control the excessive growth of the high-energy-consuming industries.

Through these efforts, coal demand will gradually become balanced, said Wei Pengyuan, deputy director of the coal industry department of the NEA.

He said a group of coal mines with an annual production capacity of 100 million tons are being prepared and will gradually be put into operation this year, increasing the coal supply for power generation.

China Daily


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