Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hydropower running out of steam due to drought

Hydropower running out of steam due to drought
China Daily, May 25, 2011

The abnormally hot weather and severe drought in Central and South China
has affected hydropower production and may lead to a severe power
shortage this summer.

In East China's Anhui province, the power shortage is expected to reach
as much as 25 million kilowatts at peak hours this summer, partly caused
by low water levels for hydropower, said an industry insider.

"If the drought continues, dams in the province will run out of water to
generate electricity," Hu Xiaofei, director of the electric dispatch
department of Anhui Electric Power Co, the province's largest power
supplier, told China Daily on Tuesday.

He said the water level in reservoirs at Dabie Mountains has dropped
more than 10 meters the past few months, and without rainfall, dams will
dry up within only a few weeks, making hydropower generation impossible
for the province.

The common problem appeared among regions along the Yangtze River in
Central China as the water levels in rivers and lakes have hit a record low.

In Central China's Hubei province, water levels at about 1,392
reservoirs have been too low to sustain water turbines as of May 15. The
water level of the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydropower
facility, fell below 156 meters - the required lowest level for full
power generation, according to statistics from the Hubei water resources

On Monday, the State Grid, the State-owned power distributor, held a
nationwide video conference to handle the power shortages in several

The company said 10 of its provincial-level power grids are suffering
grim power shortages, including Chongqing, Hunan, Anhui, Jiangsu,
Zhejiang and Shanghai. The company estimated that the country may face a
summer electricity shortage of 30 gigawatts, making it the most severe
power shortfall since 2004.

Yin Changxin, director of the safety supervision and quality department
in the State Grid, said the corporation will enhance its power
transmission capacity among different regions.

"We will also strengthen safety checks of grid equipment and improve
efficiency of power distribution," he said in an interview with China
Central Television.

Hu Xiaofei said Anhui province has already introduced curbs on power use
to cope with the power shortfalls.

On Friday, 3,789 high energy-consuming enterprises in the province were
requested by the provincial government to adjust their working hours to
guarantee power supply to residents.

"Power brownouts came much earlier this year. Last summer they were seen
in August and September."

Last year, the provincial government shut many high-energy using
enterprises, such as small cement plants, to avoid staggering
electricity usage and ensure power supply to residents and key industries.

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