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Summer shutdowns as city bids to save power

By Ni Yinbin (Shanghai Daily)

08:12, April 24, 2012

SHANGHAI'S office buildings and department stores will be asked to turn off air conditioners at peak periods this summer as the city faces a potential shortage of electricity, the city's power supplier said yesterday.

It is estimated that demand could reach around 29,000 megawatts during peak periods, usually around noon, while the city has a capacity of around 28,000 megawatts, of which 19,100 megawatts is generated in the city and the other 8,900 megawatts are from neighboring provinces, the Shanghai Electric Power Co said.

"Adjustment had to be made to include more companies and office buildings on the list of the power rationing plan during the peak hours to ensure supply for households," said Chen Daobiao, deputy general manager of the company.

"We used to restrain the power supply of big factories and corporations during the summer rush but such a plan has been not enough to balance the increasing demand for electricity," he said.

The situation has been particularly serious in northeastern districts of Baoshan, Yangpu and Zhabei, where power supply can not be increased given the current electric power facilities, Chen said.

"The situation does not allow more users in the area," Chen told reporters. "In other words, if a company wants to establish a factory or office building in the area, the application won't be approved because there's no extra power for them."

Chen said that restricting power for commercial users and office buildings in the city was a last resort.

The power consumption of air-conditioning by commercial users is a major portion of the total power demand.

Shanghai has about 380,000 commercial users and office buildings and their air-conditioning takes around 3,500 megawatts, a third of the city's total air-conditioning load, the company said.

Chen said that, according to the company's study, if those users could reduce the power taken up by air-conditioning there would be sufficient supplies for other uses during the summer peak.

"They only need to turn off the air-conditioners for one or two hours which should not cause too much influence on the people inside," Chen said.

Meanwhile, the power company said bigger transformer facilities should be built across the city as Shanghai began to depend on more power sent from out of town and more facilities could help it be more efficiently delivered to users across the city.

"It's not possible for the city to build another power plant due to environmental concerns," Chen said. "We can only expect more power from outside to support the development of the city."

At present, Shanghai is getting power from Sichuan, Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces through the national grid.

By 2013, the city should enjoy 7,000 megawatts from Anhui Province. However, such an amount of power might not be efficiently delivered due to the capacity of the current transformer stations across the city.

"The construction of the power grid in the city has been slowing down for years and the load factor of the current transformer stations has to be high, around 80 to 90 percent, which can't afford any problems," Chen said. "It's necessary and urgent to build higher voltage level transformer facilities in urban areas."

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