Guangdong diesel plants ordered to shut down

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 August, 2005, 12:00am

The central government has ordered Guangdong province to shut down more than half of its diesel-fired power plants on environmental and economic grounds, after they incurred major losses amid record-high crude oil prices.

National Development and Reform Commission vice-minister Zhang Guobao said the State Council had approved a plan to close small diesel plants with an aggregate 5,000 megawatts in generation capacity.

The capacity will be replaced by newer plants using other fuels.

'Implementation is going on,' Mr Zhang said, without specifying a timetable.

Guangdong has more than 9,000MW of small-scale diesel power plants, built to cope with power shortages that have hit the province over the past few years.

Small diesel plants are less efficient and more polluting than large coal-fired plants, which are now required to install filtration units to remove sulphur and particulates.

'The plants were built without much consideration to the tight supply and high price of oil,' Mr Zhang said. 'About 10 units with capacities of 180MW each have raked in losses of close to two billion yuan this year.'

State Environmental Protection Administration deputy director Zhang Lijun said only 8.8 per cent of China's coal-fired power plants had so far installed mandatory desulphurisation scrubbers.

About 20 per cent of the nation's total coal-fired generation plants are either installing the scrubbers, which cost about 400,000 yuan per MW, or have contracted to do so.

But some firms have delayed implementation of desulphurisation projects, or neglected to employ them after installation, Mr Zhang said. Some 220,000 yuan can be saved by shutting off the scrubbers at a 300MW plant for one day.

The administration will soon implement controls on nitrogen dioxide. The installation cost of equipment to filter out the gas would be less costly than that for desulphurisation equipment and power firms will be asked to revamp their equipment in phases.

Trial projects were under way in two plants.

China Datang Corp's director of development and planning said the firm would sign an agreement tomorrow with the government of Inner Mongolia on the construction of a giant 1,000MW wind power project in the autonomous region.

Some 30MW will be completed this year, rising to 500MW by 2010. Each megawatt of the wind power project requires eight million yuan in investment. China Datang will be the project's sole owner.