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Official: 3 Measures to Resolve Electricity Shortage
On the brink of an electricity crisis once more, 15 of China’s 31 inland provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities suffering from shortages eagerly await solutions from the government.

Since last year, electricity supplies across China have been increasingly inconsistent. Of those affected, Guangdong, Guizhou, Yunnan, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Henan, Shandong, Ningxia, Qinghai, Sichuan and Chongqing have been the worst affected. There is talk of an electricity crisis.

In response, Jia Yinghua, vice director of the Electric Department under the former State Economic and Trade Commission, has pointed to three measures that are being taken to guarantee electrical stability:

First, employing high-power generating units and building high-capacity power grids should both be integrated with the restructuring of old power stations immediately to alleviate the demand problem. The development of the electric unit industry includes large scale capacity and structural adjustment and quality enhancement. While China develops high-power generating units and high-capacity power grids, attention should also be paid to the technological updating of the old power stations and implementing innovative systems as an important part of developing the industry. Combined heat and power generation, comprehensive applications, replacement and innovation of old generating units would be an efficient means to tackle electricity supply problems.

Second, in light of current shortages, the first task is to guarantee supply by rescheduling or slowing down the shutting down of thermal power stations. Low-power units used to account for a large percentage of China’s electric utility but they are notoriously unreliable and inefficient, discharging huge pollutants. China began to shut off 30 GW small thermal generating units in 1998 as part of an adjustment process. By the end of 2002, 15 GW were shut down across the country.

Third, the problem seems to be that some provinces and cities continue to be high users of electrical power while others are less so. Hydropower also seems to have a greater frequency of power outages. Supervision and analysis should be enhanced to identify the complete picture of where the outages are happening, to whom and why. Then the local areas will know how to report and satisfy the problem. There should be an improvement in demand satisfaction that will benefit the national economy and social development.

Jia holds that electric power reform is coming into an implementation phase. The nation has established 11 national group companies that are taking solid steps toward what they refer to as a “separation of generation and transmission” and a “separation of arterial and branch grids.” As the market will increase competitive advantage, there will undoubtedly be a period of transition. Provincial electrical power companies are also affected by reform. He maintains that these new difficulties may well restart the coordination of the demand–supply gap.

“In an uncertain climate of rapid economic development, and with the conditions that produce power outages, we are being forced to research how the administrative management and supervision of the electricity supply industry may correct these new conditions for us,” said Jia Yinghua.

(China.org.cn by Alex Xu, March 16, 2003)

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