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Fri, Jul 30, 2004 - Page 12 News List

China increases reliance on coal energy

POWER CRUNCH The Communications Ministry has requisitioned cargo ships to boost shipments along the east coast, while more ore will also be sent by road

AP , SHANGHAI

Smoke and steam are shown pouring out of a coal-powered power plant on the outskirts of the town of Kaili, Guizhou Province, in this photo from Feb. 6. China is relying on coal-fired power plants to meet severe electricity shortages, but such heavy polluters are damaging the enviroment and harming its people and neighbors.

PHOTO: AFP

China has ordered emergency ship-ments of coal by road and waterways to help ease severe energy shortages said to be the worst in two decades, state media reported yesterday.

Coal will be transported by expressways from major mining areas to the coast and then shipped to eastern and southern areas worst hit by shortages, said reports in the Shanghai Daily and other state-run newspapers.

The Communications Ministry, which oversees transport, has requisitioned cargo ships from international shipping lines to help boost coal shipments, and major Chinese ports have beefed up their coal facilities to help meet demand, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

China is facing its worst sum-mer power shortage since the early 1980s, with the shortfall of electricity forecast to hit 30 million

kilowatts.

Major cities like Shanghai have darkened decorative lighting and ordered factories to cut back or switch hours of production. Man-agers of shopping malls, hotels and office buildings have been told to reduce air conditioning during the hottest hours of the day.

With industrial output soaring amid 9 percent-plus economic growth, supplies of coal and electricity have failed to keep up with surging needs.

Demand for electricity rose 16 percent in the first six months of this year over the same period last year, Xinhua reported, citing government statistics.

It said cities across the country imposed 757,000 power brownouts during that time.

Though they are year-round, power shortages are most acute during China's brutally hot summers, when air conditioning gobbles up about half of all electricity consumed by major cities.

In cities along the Yangtze River, including Shanghai, summer high temperatures tend to hover between 30?C to 38?C, often for weeks on end. Now that most residents can afford to install air conditioners, the government is asking manufacturers to develop energy-saving models to help reduce consumption.

Meanwhile, transfers of electricity from the resource-rich western parts of the country to the industrialized east have been stepped up, Xinhua said.

West-to-east power transfers rose 56 percent in the first half of the year from a year earlier, to 14.2 billion kilowatt hours, it said, citing data from the China Southern Power Grid. Most of the transfers went to Guangdong, which is a key export manufacturing region.

China plans to more than double its electricity output by 2020. The government, grappling with severe air pollution problems, is looking to shift some of that away from coal-burning plants and to nuclear power, wind power and tidal energy.

Earlier this week, the government announced it has approved a new nuclear power plant at Sanmen, Zhejiang Province.

The plant will have a combined installed capacity of 12 million kilowatts when it begins operation in 2010, Xinhua reported.

China has plans to build as many as 32 large 1,000-megawatt nuclear power reactors over the next 16 years.

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