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Official Calls for More Power Stations

China needs to build more power stations to overcome the power shortages impeding the Chinese economy's rapid development, a senior official said yesterday.

Zhang Guobao, vice-minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, said that China will require a power supply of 11,000 billion kilowatt hours by 2020, needing generating units with a total capacity of 2,400,000 megawatts.

China is building new power stations with a combined capacity of 160,000 megawatts generating units this year to meet increased demand, Zhang told 2,000 delegates from 37 countries and regions at the 15th Conference on Electric Power Supply Industry.

ABB, the world's leading power and automation technology group, said China had decided to build 144 new power plants this year.

Official statistics show that the capacity of generating units which are under construction far exceeds 160,000 megawatts, reaching 240,000 megawatts.

But many are very small generating units under a capacity of 135 megawatts, Zhang said.

"Building so many small power plants will cause an imbalance in the nation's power supply and will be unfavourable to the nation's economic development," he said.

China currently has only 41 generating units in operation with a capacity over 600 megawatts, while there are 4,403 units over 200 megawatts units.

"We are calling for more large-capacity generating units, otherwise, we cannot solve the electricity shortage," Zhang said.

Power insiders said China should make full use of advanced foreign technology in order to launch big power plants.

Vice-Premier Huang Ju said in a congratulatory letter to the conference that the nation will further encourage and support overseas investors and power companies to compete on an equal footing in China's power market.

"China's power sector will continue opening up to overseas investors," Huang said.

Foreign companies are showing great interest at the conference in China's power market, hoping to get involved by providing advanced technologies and capital.

ABB China Chairman and President Peter Leupp announced yesterday the company has won contracts worth around US$60 million to supply a large 500 KV gas-insulated switchgear and 12 sets of power transformers for the right-bank power plant of the Three Gorges dam project.

"China's current reform of the power system will offer massive opportunities for the development of its power industry," said Chai Songyue, chairman of the State Electricity Regulatory Commission, adding that China will introduce more foreign capital to develop its power industry.

China is expected to increase additional 500,000 megawatt generating units to "upgrade its power industry to a new stage" over the next 15 years, Chai said.

(China Daily October 19, 2004)

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