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State To Close 31 GW At Small Power Plants

Eric Ng, SCMP – Updated on Feb 05, 2009

The central government plans to shut down small coal-fired plants with a combined power generating capacity of 31 gigawatts over the next three years after surpassing its targets for the past two years.

China Central Television quoted an official at the National Energy Commission as saying that Beijing aimed to close pollution-prone and inefficient small power plants with a combined capacity of 13 GW this year, 10 GW next year and 8 GW in 2011.

They would be replaced by large, energy-efficient plants capable of generating 50 GW of power, the report said.

The targets were set at a national energy work meeting on Tuesday. It was the first national industry meeting since the ministerial-level commission’s establishment about a year ago.

About 3.14 GW of capacity was shut in 2006, while 14.38 GW was closed in the following year, exceeding a target of 10 GW. Last year, 16.69 GW was taken off line, beating a 13 GW target.

Together with this and next years’ goals, the mainland will close small plants with a combined capacity of 57.21 GW – more than the five-year target of 50 GW set in 2006.

“We should grasp the opportunity arising from the current decline in power demand to speed up the closure of small power plants and their replacement with large ones,” the commission’s head Zhang Guobao was quoted by the Shanghai Securities News as saying during the meeting.

Large modern plants utilise more efficient technology. For example, the 1 GW generation units installed at Huaneng Power International’s Yuhuan plant in Zhejiang province consumes 283 grams of coal per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of output. This compares with an average of 349 grams for all of the country’s coal-fired plants last year, down from an average of 370 grams in 2005.

The improvement was largely a result of the construction of new plants over the past five years, when capacity doubled to 792.5 GW at the end of 2008.

Energy efficiency enhancement in the power sector, which contributes three-quarters of energy production, is key to attaining the country’s goal to cut energy consumption per unit of economic output by a fifth between 2006 and 2010.

The mainland used 4.2 per cent less energy to generate each unit of gross domestic product last year, up from 3.7 per cent in 2007 and 1.8 per cent in 2006.

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