Shanghai is experiencing an acute power shortage due to the cold spell. Peak electricity production in local power plants hit 13.4 million kwh on January 28.
How can the city ensure enough electricity for residential use? The China Business News conducted an interview with Zhou Yongxing, General Manager of Shanghai Electric Power Co:
CBN (China Business News): Storms felled power transmission towers in Guizhou and Hunan provinces, disrupting a link in central China’s transmission system. Why have no power transmission tower fallen in northeast China, where the temperature is lower than these areas?
Zhou: In northeast China, temperatures in winter routinely go below 10 to 20 centigrade, making it difficult to deposit snow on a tower. However, the lowest temperature in Hunan and Guizhou has been minus 3 centigrade. Heavy snowfalls, thick ice and freezing temperatures cause power transmission towers to crumple.
CBN: Do severe snowstorms in central and eastern China influence power supplies in Shanghai?
Zhou: Power supplies in the city are influenced by coal shortages and disrupted electricity transmission during bad weather.
Coal transport has been hampered by a combination of bad weather affecting much of the country along with rising passenger rail traffic as the Spring Festival approaches. Some coalmines went on recess prior to the Spring Festival, while many regions have closed small, unsafe mines as part of the national campaign for safe coal production; this has also led to a decrease in supplies.
Peak electricity capacity in Shanghai is 18 million kilowatts. We need to buy 6 million kilowatts from other provinces, for example, Hubei. This extremely severe winter weather coupled with power transmission safety made us decide to cut off power transmission from other provinces temporarily.
CBN: What efforts will be taken to ensure adequate power supplies in Shanghai?
Zhou: We will increase electricity production by natural gas fired power plants if the amount of generated electricity is less than 10 million kwh from local power plants. Our company also runs some oil-powered plants. We will try to purchase as much electricity as we can from other provinces without taking cost into account in order to ensure adequate residential use and minimize negative influences on society.
Shanghai Electric will also enhance power control measures. Heavy power users will be asked to reschedule production to non-peak hours to alter current power demands.
(China.org.cn by Wu Nanlan, January 30, 2008)