China Energy Industry

Sichuan drought could pull plug in Chengdu

China Online
March 31, 2006

The extreme lack of water, due to a drought in Sichuan province, has seriously affected the ability to generate power. The province has prepared its last remaining backup coal-fueled generator as the power grid strains to supply electricity.

A withering drought that began in Sichuan province last October has persisted through autumn, all of winter and now spring. A drought this severe has not been seen in Sichuan in 30 years. The extreme lack of water has seriously affected the ability to generate power. The province has prepared its last remaining backup coal-fueled generator for service as the power grid strains to supply electricity. Indeed, the capital city Chengdu is on the verge of power outages and quotas for electricity use, reports the April 5 edition of 21DNN.com.

Water sources drying up: The current water level in the Ertan Reservoir is only 8 meters (26 feet) above the dead water level‚Äîthe minimum water level needed to generate power. The power-generating capacity of the Ertan Power Station, the major supplier of electricity in Sichuan, will be seriously limited if the Yalong River does not begin to flow more vigorously within the next few days, the article said. If the river fails to rise, power generation at the Ertan Power Station will most likely come to a complete halt, which would trigger a power shortfall of between 1,400 kilowatt hours and 1,500 kilowatt hours per day. Unfortunately, while the drought dries up water and damages power supplies, the demand for electricity in Sichuan has surged. Sichuan’s electricity-generating capacity and supply between January and March of this year increased by 12.61 percent over the same period last year. The average daily consumption of electricity is nearly 100 million kilowatt hours. A source at the Sichuan Provincial Electric Power Corp. said that coal-fueled electric generators played a leading role in power generation during the winter, organized under the uniform coordination of provincial power grids. Currently, all of Sichuan’s coal-fueled power generators are operating at full capacity. A single remaining backup generator, with a generating capacity of 200,000 kilowatt hours, will be brought online soon. The source indicated that the Sichuan Provincial Power Corp. would ration electricity consumption if the Ertan Reservoir “dries out” and, at the same time, the overworked coal-fueled power generators break down due to mechanical failure, the story said.

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