National power upgrade required

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 April, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 April, 2004, 12:00am

More power plants will be built and the power industry improved to tackle nationwide electricity shortages that have worsened ahead of the peak summer period, a senior official says.

Chai Songyue, director of the State Electricity Regulatory Commission, told Xinhua that besides adopting a policy of building more power plants, the government should also adopt further measures.

They included lowering production costs, strengthening the regulation of power distribution and making better use of supply.

Raising the price of electricity and rationing power could also help. Mr Chai said the problems of high investment and low output were hindering the development of the industry.

The waste of energy resources in power production was much higher than the international standard and had also hampered development, he said.

Between January and September last year, the country used 22.5 per cent more coal to produce a unit of power than used in developed countries.

Twenty-four provinces in central, eastern, southeastern and southern areas have experienced power rationing this year.

Figures showed that only five provinces - Hainan, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning and Xinjiang - escaped power cuts in the first quarter, which saw national demand rise 16.4 per cent to 480 billion kWh.

The economically developed coastal areas have been most affected by shortages so far. Shortages in Shanghai and Guangdong are expected to worsen this summer and have raised concerns among foreign investors about production losses.

Zhejiang saw industrial output drop nearly 20 per cent in the first two months of this year compared with last year, and local media reported the province was expected to experience worsening shortages this year amid a 20 per cent increase in demand.

A balance of supply and demand in electricity is not expected in the province until 2007 when more power plants are built.

The State Grid Corporation of China said nationwide power demand this year would exceed supply by 30 million kW. The warning has prompted local officials to adopt various power-saving measures, including blackouts.