November 4, 2011 / 10:00 AM / 7 years ago

Meager grid input hampers China efficiency, emission efforts

BEIJING, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Insufficient regional grid investment, improper power plans and other factors have hampered China’s efforts to improve power generation efficiency and cut pollutant emissions, data from the State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC) showed.

The utilisation rates of generators with capacity of 600 megawatts and above were less than those for 300 MW in about half of Chinese provinces in 2010, the commission said in a report published on Thursday.

In China, a coal-fired power generator with capacity of 1 gigawatt burns about 0.29 kilograms of coal for one kilowatt hour of electricity output. A 600-MW generator needs 0.31 kg and 300-MW generator needs 0.34 kg.

Coal-fuelled generators with capacity of 600-MW or above accounted for 55.3 percent of total coal-fired generating capacity that is connected to provincial grids.

“(Grid companies) have invested a fairly large amount of money on inter-provincial power grids in recent years and less on intra-province networks,” SERC said. “Some big generators could not be fully utilised because of insufficient transmission capacity to pass on high-voltage power flows.”

State Grid Corp of China (SGCC) favours a plan to build the world’s only ultra-high voltage (UHV) power transmission network — at 800 kV for direct current power flows and 1,000 kV for alternating current — that would greatly boost inter-provincial transmission capacity and consolidate controls over regional grids.

The dominant Chinese power transmission and distribution system operator has also spent less on distribution networks compared with transmission, a factor contributing to power shortfalls in some regions, the SERC has said.

Some local governments failed to set annual contractual power volumes in line with regulations and requirements, and did not give big and efficient generators more generation hours, the SERC said.

China’s power dispatch centres are required to prioritise power supplies from clean energy sources and efficient generators to match demand, but the rules are loosely implemented as actual operation of these centres, controlled by grid operators, often succumbs to local government power generation planning.

Recurrent power shortages also make power dispatch orders irrelevant and invalidate generation efficiency plans.

China’s power sector burned 55.1 percent of national coal supplies in 2010, emitting 42.5 percent of sulphur dioxide and 50 percent of carbon dioxide, according to the SERC. (Reporting by Jim Bai and Ken Wills; Editing by Chris Lewis)

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