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China's West-East Power Transmission Hit by Grid Problems

Aug 29, 2007 -Xinhua Finance News

China's nationwide program to deliver electricity produced in western regions to the east coast is suffering because of inadequate grid infrastructure, according to a report by the official Economic Daily.

Xinhua Finance News reportes that because grid construction has not kept up with the expansion of generation capacity in the northwest, the "big five" state-owned power generators have racked up losses of 4.84 bln yuan in the region since the end of last year, the report said.

The West-East Power Transmission project was launched in November 2000, aiming to ease electricity shortages in China's developed regions by exploiting the resources in the less-developed west. The success of the project was dependent on grid investment.

Two of the three sections of the project - the southern route connecting hydroelectric and thermal power stations in southwest Yunnan, Guizhou and Guangxi with southeast Guangdong, and the central route connecting the Three Gorges Project and other hydropower plants on the Yangtze River upstream with eastern China - have been relatively successful.

However, the northern route - aiming to link hydropower stations on the Yellow River's upper reaches (as well as new coal-fueled "energy bases" in the regions of Xinjiang, Ningxia, Shaanxi and Inner Mongolia) to the Beijing-Tianjin-Tangshan power grid - has not got off the ground, and the region now has surplus capacity, according to the report.

The northwestern region is planning to double its 2005 generation capacity of 3,000 megawatts by the end of 2010. Around 1,100 MW of that new capacity will be dedicated to supplying the east.

Both Ningxia and Shaanxi plan to build a number of large-scale integrated coal-power facilities to supply the capital, Beijing, through high-capacity grids, and the state authorities have already approved a massive expansion of hydropower on the upper reaches of the Yellow River in Qinghai province.

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