State Grid eyes UHV lines amid Zhejiang power shortages

Updated: 2011-05-19 16:14
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BEIJING - Eastern China's Zhejiang will face increasing power shortages in the next two years, the State Grid Corp of China (SGCC) said in a company newspaper on Wednesday, boosting the case for its ambitious plan to build more ultra-high voltage (UHV) power transmission lines.

Power shortfalls in Zhejiang could increase to over 10 gigawatts (gW) in the next year or two from an expected deficit of 3.5-5 gW this summer, because the province will barely add new generating capacity even as power demand keeps rising, officials with Zhejiang Electric Power Corp warned.

The company is a regional unit of the SGCC, the dominant power distributor in China.

Zhejiang will add 2.6 gW of installed generating capacity before the summer of this year and no other new generators are expected to be installed before the summer of 2013, Zhang Hong, a planning official with Zhejiang Electric Power Corp was quoted as saying by the State Grid News.

The affluent coastal province will build 16 gW of generating capacity in the five years through 2015, far short of the expected 26.05 gW net increase in the power load during the same period, Zhang said.

Instead of pursuing regional power self-sufficiency, Zhejiang should rely on long-distance and high-capacity UHV lines for power supplies, given increasing local strains in power plant location selection, coal transportation and environmental conditions, the report said, citing Yan Shougen, former head of a local congress in Zhejiang.

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Zhejiang Electric Power Corp has proposed several UHV power lines with power receiving capacity of 18 gW by 2015 and 30 gW by 2020, but none of the proposed projects has been approved, according to the newspaper report.

China is the only country in the world with plans to build large UHV power line networks, with SGCC alone planning to earmark more than 500 billion yuan ($76.9 billion) to build 40,000 km of such lines by 2015.

But some industry officials have objected to the UHV power network plans, citing concerns including pollution, technological and economic viability, supply security and competition.

The country's first UHV line, the 640-kilometre, 1,000- kilovolt Shanxi-Hubei alternating current line run by SGCC, has a designed capacity of 2.8 gW, but actual electricity transmission ranged from 1 gW to 1.5 gW, the New Century magazine reported in April.