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City has power to spare, barely

SHANGHAI'S power company said it expects to have sufficient electricity supply to accommodate peak use this summer and avoid the rationing that some local industries suffered in previous years.

The supply margin is thin, however, and power plant breakdowns and storms could still cause problems with local energy supply, officials at the Shanghai Electric Co acknowledged.

The city's peak load is expected to reach 24,000 megawatts, about 1,000MW more than last summer. It could go as high as 24,300MW in extreme hot weather.

Local power generating capacity stands at 15,600MW, and the company said it has secured 8,500MW of capacity from other provinces.

Last summer, the city had 14,700MW of its own capacity and bought 8,000MW elsewhere.

Though the amount is enough to meet this summer's peak demand, some generating capacity is typically held in reserve, and plants don't operate all the time.

"(With the contracted capacity) we will manage to maintain the power supply," said Wang Changxing, an electric company official. "But risks still exist."

Among the risks, the city has several hot spots where industrial demand is heavy, and curtailments may be needed in those areas, the electric company said.

Officials also pointed out that extreme temperatures and typhoons are wild cards affecting the power supply, and some power grid improvements have been halted because of the 2010 World Expo, a factor that could weaken the local transmission and distribution system.

To prepare for possible outages because of violent weather, the electric company has arranged for 3,000 repair teams to remain on standby around the city.

To meet rising demand, Shanghai is building more generation units, especially plants that are more environmentally friendly than older generators.

The city will install two 1,000MW "ultra-supercritical" coal-fired generating units by early next year, bringing the city's total to six. These plants burn less coal and emit less carbon dioxide for each unit of electricity generated than traditional plants.

And on Thursday, construction started on a gas-fired power plant in the Lingang New City whose first phase consists of four 350MW generating units.


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