Fri, Jun 09, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Illegal plants threaten energy blueprint


China said yesterday that it is battling a proliferation of new power plants that are being built without permission and threaten to upset plans for a more environmentally friendly energy mix.

"A number of power stations built against regulations still need to be dealt with, which is very difficult," Zhang Guobao (張國寶), the deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission, told a briefing in Beijing.

Local officis have been moving ahead with new power plant construction to meet a serious electricity shortage in recent years.

"Stimulated by the severe strain on the power supply in the past few years, there is still a strong impetus to construct more power stations in various regions," Zhang said.

Since the central government does not have much control over the projects, it also does not get to decide how they fit into the power mix the planning agencies are steering towards.

"The absence of orderly construction will lead to the deterioration of China's power mix," Zhang said.

The vast majority of China's power needs come from coal and to a lesser extent oil, both of which have had dire consequences for the nation's environment.

Environment officials in Beijing this week listed coal power plants as one of the top three causes of the city's air pollution problem.

China is trying to adjust its power mix, hoping that "clean power" will make up at least 35 percent of its supply in 2010. Clean power refers to hydro, nuclear, gas, clean coal and renewable energy. For the next five years, China will favor large-scale power generation units to small ones, Zhang said.

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