Of all Chinese industries, the thermal, hydro and nuclear power industries have developed the most rapidly. In the 1990s, the installed capacity of generators increased from 100 million kw to 300 million kw, and to 315 million kw at the end of 2000. At the same time, the total generated electricity came to 1,478 billion kwh. The average annual growth rate of the installed capacity of generators registered 7.5 percent, and that of generated electricity, 9.4 percent.
The construction of power grids has entered the fastest development stage in history. Main power grids now cover all the cities and most rural areas of the country. Power grids of 500 kv have begun to replace the old 220-kv grids in undertaking cross-provincial and cross-regional transmission and exchange operations. An international advanced automatic control system with computers as the mainstay has been universally adopted, and has proved practical. The establishment of the six cross-provincial (or cross-autonomous regional) power grids, excluding those in northwestern China, and five independent provincial 500-kv main power grids, and the commissioning of a series of large power stations indicate that China’s power industry has entered a new era featuring large generating units, large power plants, large power grids, ultra-high voltage and automation.
The technological level of the coal industry has constantly improved. Now, China has the ability to design, construct, equip and administer 10-million-ton opencut coal mines and large and medium-sized mining areas. China’s coal washing and dressing technologies and abilities have constantly improved and coal liquefaction and underground gasification are being introduced. In 2001, China exported over 80 million tons of coal, becoming the second largest coal exporting country in the world.