Beijing has no worries on power curbs amid rare cold wave: analyst
Published: Jan 07, 2021 10:43 PM

Beijing residents walk in the street on January 6, 2021. Photo: CFP

Beijing, the Chinese capital, shivered under record low temperatures on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, causing power demand to reach a new peak. 

However, as the city gets 60 percent of its power from multiple energy bases in North China, a Chinese expert said that the city won't face the power curbs and restrictions experienced weeks ago by some cities in Central China's Hunan Province and East China's Jiangxi Province.

The Beijing branch of State Grid Corp of China, which ranked No.3 on the Fortune Global 500 list, said on Wednesday that Beijing has ample power supply and residents can "use power as they please."

The statement came as Beijing's power load broke the record of 23.56 million kilowatts (kW) set during the hot summer of 2018, with Wednesday evening's load hitting 24.51 million kW as the capital was hit by a record low reading of -19.2 C and intense winds.

Even as State Grid described Beijing's power supply as "orderly" and grid operation as "stable," the utility followed a contingency plan to cope with the unusual cold front, sending 7,500 support personnel, 650 emergency repair vehicles and 185 power backup vehicles across the municipality.

It is estimated that heating-purpose power demand accounts for 48.2 percent at peak hours.

As part of the city's response to cope with the cold, the Beijing unit of China Huaneng Group Co, a major power generator, lit up two of its coal-fired power generators at the end of December, and the electricity generated was successfully fed into the grid.

To improve the environment, Beijing bid farewell to coal-fired power generation in 2017 and shifted to natural gas, but it reserved several generators for peak times.

"Beijing won't face similar power curbs seen in a few central and southern provinces," Han Xiaoping, chief analyst at energy industry website, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Han noted that Beijing typically is 60 percent reliant on inbound power transmitted via grid networks in North China, and power plants in several provinces in North China could easily cope with Beijing's demand for more power by burning more coal. 

The fact that Huaneng was able to maintain its generators at a ready-to-use level after months of dormancy is a facet of the capital's energy supply preparedness, Han said, noting that the supply of natural gas into the city is also well managed. 

China is heavily reliant on electricity, and its per capita consumption surpassed the UK in 2018.

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