Hydropower increase won't end electricity shortage

08:50, June 26, 2011      

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Hydropower generation has increased as water levels of the country's hydro lakes continue to rise, but sluggish thermal power supply means electricity shortages are set to continue through summer.

Demand had not eased because of the latest power price hike, but hydropower supply has been boosted due to recent heavy rains, said Xue Jing, director of the Statistical Department of China Electricity Council (CEC) on Friday.

However, it's only a temporary relief and it won't alter the previous forecasted shortage of a 30 million kilowatt (kw), according to sources with the State Grid Corp. of China (SGCC) who declined to be named.

Just weeks ago the middle and lower parts of the Yangtze River basin lay parched from a searing drought and many hydropower turbines -- lacking water to drive them sufficiently -- were switched off.

In a matter of days the situation was turned around. Downpours hit the region causing floods that quickly raised the levels of hydro lakes.

SLUGGISH THERMAL POWER PERFORMANCE

China's top five thermal power generators reported 12.16 billion yuan of losses in the first five months, up 7.86 billion yuan (1.21 billion U.S. dollars) from a year earlier, according to the CEC.

Soaring coal prices were the main reason for the losses, according to the CEC.

Thermal power generators now report 0.05 yuan of losses per kilowatt-hour (kwh) despite the recent hikes, said Zhang Shumin, chief engineer with China Guodian Corporation on Friday.

China raised power prices despite the risk of exacerbating the country's inflation problem. The Consumer Price Index (CPI), a major gauge of inflation, rose to 5.5 percent in May, well above the government's target ceiling of 4 percent for the year.


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