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Monday, August 14, 2000, updated at 08:30(GMT+8)

Electricity Lights 10% Industrial Growth in First Half

China generated 625.6 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in the first half of this year, a 10.55 per cent increase on a year-on-year basis.

A report from the State Power Corp of China said it is the largest increase since 1995.

Experts said the rapid increase of electricity output is a clear indication of the national economy's recovery. China's gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 8.2 per cent in the January-June period, higher than the 7.8 per cent for all of 1998 and 7.1 per cent for 1999.

According to the report, in the first half of this year, China produced 528 billion kilowatt-hours of thermal power electricity, 89.9 billion kilowatt-hours of hydropower electricity and 7.78 billion kilowatts of nuclear power electricity, up 11.07 per cent, 7.28 per cent and 14.86 per cent.

Strong demand has emerged in some regions including South China and a majority of coastal areas.

In Zhejiang alone, electricity consumption totalled 33.84 billion kilowatt-hours in the first six months, jumping 20.75 per cent.

The report attributed the strong demand to the initial surge of the country's industrial economy.

Some heavy industries, especially steel and non-ferrous sectors, have been emerging from two-year doldrums.

Statistics indicated that in the January-June period, leading enterprises' steel output rose by 5 per cent; rolled steel, 10 per cent; pig iron, 12 per cent; cement, 15 per cent; and 10 kinds of non-ferrous metals, 20 per cent.

The soaring trend of international crude oil prices also resulted in more production in petroleum and petrochemical sectors.

The ongoing upgrade of urban and rural grids also helped promote electricity consumption, the report indicated.

In the first half of this year, 68.15 billion yuan (US$8.21 billion), 9 per cent of China's total fixed assets investment, was invested into upgrading projects, up 34.2 per cent on a year-on-year basis.

Improving urban and rural grids will help advance power supply capacity and enhance quality of life for residents.

The upgrading projects are believed to play an active role in promoting domestic machinery and electronics industries, as almost all equipment needed in the projects will be purchased domestically.

The step is destined to create huge market demand for air-conditioners, electricity-powered water heaters and other home appliances, said experts.

In tandem with the upgrading items, many provincial power companies are sparing no efforts to tap markets and enlarge electricity sales, the report said.

In Southwest China's Yunnan Province, local power companies have launched a series of favourable measures to encourage more consumption. Though the province's total industrial production was still in low stages, its power consumption reached 10 billion kilowatt-hours in the first six months, up 4.19 per cent.

Somewhat abnormal weather around the country also contributes to the rise of power consumption, the report said.

In the first quarter, northern China suffered relatively colder weather than previous years, resulting in more power demand for heating systems.

In May and June, hot and dry weather brought about strong electricity consumption for agricultural irrigation and air-conditioning, the report noted.

In some areas like Guangdong, power demand is somewhat higher than actual supply capacity. Factories and residents are required to ration electricity.

Currently, the Guangdong grid is forced to buy peak-time electricity from Hong Kong by around 700,000 kilowatt-hours per day.

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China generated 625.6 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in the first half of this year, a 10.55 per cent increase on a year-on-year basis.

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