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China replays blackouts in winter with severe power shortage
( 2003-12-02 13:54) (Xinhua)

China's central, eastern, southeastern and southern areas have had to switch off the electricity frequently to prevent the grid from crashing since November, scenes recurrent just as in the power-thirsty summer.

Experts pointed out the chronic power shortages in some areas were likely to continue for at least two years.

The shortage would be worse next year, as the rise of electricity supply is anticipated to lag behind projected growth by about 10 percent, Tuesday's China Daily reported.

Eight provinces and regions, including the booming Guangdong province and Shanghai municipality, are now saddled with a stark shortage of power when electricity consumption began spiking after temperatures dropped.

Central China's Hunan province has rationed electricity in 14 areas, affecting thousands of businesses and residents, as the province's electricity supply is about 20 million kilowatts short of what it needs.

Aside from rising demand, experts also attributed the power shortage to drought and a deficient coal supply.

Wu Jingru, an expert with the State Development Bank, blamed the supply shortfall on a lack of water in reservoirs in hydropower-heavy areas due to the dry winter weather.

In southwest China's Sichuan province, hydro makes up two thirds of the electricity generated in the province. But when water levels fall to one third of what they are in summer, the coal-fired plants in the province alone cannot meet the demand.

The coal supply has also shrunk as the government has stepped up efforts to shut down coal mines this year after a series of fatal accidents.

Moreover, the price of coal has risen dramatically since September because of serious shortages, which, in turn, made power plants reluctant to buy more coal.

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