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Energy imbalances ‘an urgent problem’

Cui Jia and Du Juan
Updated: Mar 6,2015 7:27 AM     China Daily

Weakening energy consumption amid an economic slowdown means that China must urgently resolve internal imbalances in supply and demand, said a senior official on March 5.

Nur Bekri, head of the National Energy Administration, the top energy planner, told China Daily that local government officials from energy-rich provinces are increasingly seeking his help in selling their output-the biggest change he has seen since he switched roles in December.

Bekri was the chairman of the resource-rich Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in northwestern China before being appointed as head of the NEA and deputy chief of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top economic planner.

He said that in the past, it was usually big energy users such as provinces in eastern China that came to the NEA for approval to buy more coal, power and gas from producing regions such as Shanxi, Sichuan and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region.

Affected by the country’s economic slowdown and consumption-driven growth transformation, energy demand, especially power consumption in some provinces, is weakening.

According to the NEA, the growth of average consumption of primary energy is expected to drop to 3.4 percent annually through 2020 and about 2.3 percent by 2030.

In recent decades, energy use grew about 7.9 percent annually.

The softening of demand is already being felt. For instance, Chu Yanfang, deputy general manager of the Sichuan subsidiary of State Grid Corp of China, the largest power provider, said that hydropower-rich Sichuan has total installed generation capacity of 78.74 million kilowatts, but the peak load in the province is only 37.2 million kW.

Even taking sales to other provinces into account, Sichuan will still have an excess of up to 21.8 billion kilowatt-hours this year.

In 2014, the province wasted 18.7 billion kWh of electricity generation, she said.

Hydropower is clean energy and its waste will cause huge economic losses and environmental costs, Chu said.

Wang Dongming, Sichuan’s Party chief, said that the power grid in Sichuan should improve links to other provinces and prices should be cut to encourage more power use.

Liu Zhenya, president of State Grid, said in an earlier interview that extra-high-voltage transmission lines will help solve China’s energy delivery imbalances.

State Grid plans to invest 420.2 billion yuan ($67.29 billion) in 2015, up 24 percent from last year, and such transmission lines will be the core of the investment, according to the company.

Peng Yining contributed to this story.

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