Dry spell exacerbates SW China's power crunch

Updated: 2011-08-24 17:13


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GUIYANG - A dry spell plaguing Southwest China that has pushed up electricity demand and crippled hydro-power output is exacerbating the power crunch in the region, officials said Wednesday.

In Guizhou province, power supply is about 120 million kilowatt-hours short of demand on an average day, statistics from the provincial power grid company show. The shortage is caused mainly by the chronical strain in the coal supply and declining hydropower output, officials said.

The drought has dried up the reservoirs which Guizhou's major hydroelectric stations are located, reducing the province's daily hydro power output by 28.5 percent compared to the same period last year, said Zhang Quanyi, an official with the economic and informationization committee of Guizhou.

Zhang said the hydro-power reserve was only 530 million kilowatt-hours, about one-tenth of what it was at the same time last year.

The neighboring Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region is also squeezed by the power crunch, which has forced 1,000 factories and companies in the region to suspend operations, local officials said.

The output of three major hydro-electric stations on Guangxi's Hongshui River was down 50 percent from a year earlier and experts suspect the stations will run on low water levels for long time.

Enduring heat and a lack of rain over the past few weeks have left parts of south China drought striken. In Guangxi, about 150,000 residents did not have adequate access to drinking water. The drought also wiped out harvest on 10,000 hectares of farmland in the region.

Demand for electricity has soared with rising temperatures. According to the China Southern Power Grid, power demand in five southern provinces grew by 11.5 percent year-on-year in August, worsening the power crunch originally caused by the strain in coal supply.

Guizhou is southern China's major coal-producing base with an annual output of 150 million tonnes of coal, but managers of the province's coal-fired power stations say they have little incentive to generate electricity as the government-imposed cap on electricity prices make the business unprofitable.

Across the country, power shortages are affecting a number of regions and the situation is not likely to improve in the near future, officials said.

Power consumption totaled more than 2.2 trillion kilowatt-hours in the first half of the year, up 12.2 percent from a year earlier, said Wei Shaofeng, deputy director of China Electricity Council, who has predicted further power shortages in autumn and winter.

China's current power demand is high, boosted by massive use of air conditioners due to hot weather, and robust industrial consumption of electricity, he said.

The official said the power crunch in the next few years will be worse than the situation in the five years to 2010, with lack of electricity hitting a wider range of areas.