Power shortages plague businesses

Updated: 2011-08-30 07:40

By Li Wenfang (China Daily)

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GUANGZHOU - Binchuan Metals Co has had weekly power blackouts this summer and uses 2,000 liters of diesel every month to fuel its own generators.

"This adds to our costs," said the head of its administrative department, surnamed Tang.

The company, based in Dongguan, Guangdong province, is not alone. In fact, some areas in this manufacturing hub have been experiencing blackouts three days a week, according to the power supply bureau.

"The lack of water and coal, and the peak demand season, have resulted in a tight power supply, which will worsen," said Wang Jifeng, director of the control and communications center of China Southern Power Grid Co.

"The power shortage is the worst in five years," Wang said.

The five areas powered by China Southern Power Grid Co - the provinces of Guangdong, Yunnan, Guizhou and Hainan, and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region - were short 10 million kilowatts in August, or about 10 percent of demand.

A red alert was issued in Guangxi and Guizhou, which saw more than a 20-percent shortage.

Water levels along the Wujiang, Hongshui and Lancang rivers, which power the southern grid, have been unprecedentedly low. Hydropower generation for the grid was reduced by more than 60 percent.

The situation may not improve until October.

Equipment maintenance, short coal supply and poor coal quality led to a more than 20-percent cut in coal-fired power generation.

Power demand, in the meantime, grew 11.5 percent year-on-year on the southern grid in August.

All the five areas, except for Hainan, experienced blackouts.

Such tight power supplies are a major issue in the economic development of Guangdong, along with rising costs, capital shortage and slowing foreign trade, said Huang Huahua, governor of Guangdong.

The province accounted for about half of the power shortage on the southern grid in August.

More than 80 percent of zinc ore enterprises in Guangxi had suspended production and the rest were operating at less than half capacity, according to a survey by Shanghai Metals Market in early August.

The Southern Power Grid Co pledged to guarantee power supplies to residences, hospitals, schools and the farming industry, while restricting the supply to high energy-consuming and highly polluting enterprises.

The company also talked with governments in the five areas to ensure the full operation of coal-fire generators.

Xue Yutong contributed to this story.