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Small Polluting Power Units Will Close

In an effort to enhance energy efficiency and cut pollution, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has ordered the closure of small units at 64 coal-fired power plants across the nation within the next five years.

These power generation units, each having a capacity of 50,000 kilowatts or less, turn out 5.34 million kilowatts in total. They will be closed between now and 2010, the NDRC said in a statement on its website on Friday.

The units account for just over 1 per cent of China's 2004 installed capacity, which reached 440 gigawatts (GW).

All or parts of the units at 10 plants located in provinces such as Henan, Shanxi and Hunan are on the NDRC blacklist for closure by the end of this year.

"In order to better utilize energy resources, protect the environment and promote the sustainable growth of the country's power sector, we will gradually close the small coal-driven units which are energy-intensive, low in efficiency and highly polluting," the policy planner said in a statement.

The move is in line with the government's blueprint for cutting heavy reliance on coal and oil in the electricity industry, and comes after the industry watchdog predicted a power supply surplus in a couple of years, although the country is still suffering from electricity shortfalls.

Industry sources say the small-sized units use 100 grams of coal more to generate one kilowatt-hour of electricity than larger ones.

Wang Yonggan, secretary-general of the China Electricity Council (CEC) earlier this month told reporters the country's electricity installed capacity will reach 510 GW by the end of this year and hit 650 GW by the end of 2007, which was originally the 2010 target.

By the end of July, construction of new power plants producing 72 GW had started since the beginning of this year, while total capacity under development currently tops 195 GW, according to NDRC Vice-Minister Zhang Guobao, who spoke at a power conference earlier this month.

On the demand side, CEC's Wang predicted power consumption growth for 2007 will slow to 9 per cent from the estimated 13 per cent this year. "The electricity crunch is expected to be much alleviated by the end of next year or in 2007, when some places may see a supply glut," Wang said at a press conference in Beijing at the beginning of this month.

(China Daily August 27, 2005)

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