China’s electricity grid able to withstand extreme weather patterns: official
Published: Feb 28, 2021 01:09 PM
A worker (right) repairs a power line in Austin, Texas, the US, on Saturday. Photo: VCG

A worker (right) repairs a power line in Austin, Texas, the US, on Saturday. Photo: VCG

As the snowstorm-induced power outage affected up to 4.3 million residents in Texas, the US, a Chinese official said on Saturday that China’s national electricity grid has the capacity to withstand extreme weather patterns, and ensure a reliable and stable electricity supply to Chinese residents.

The catastrophic blackout in Texas caused by a severe snowstorm mayhem is reportedly caused by a surge in demand for electricity, with the frigid weather disrupting both electricity generation and underground gas supply, Chinese news outlet China Electric Power News reported, citing an official with the National Energy Administration.

“Based on known facts, we think the US could make improvements to ramp up emergency preparations, while the equipment of Texas’ electricity network has been operating for years and seems outdated, and therefore can’t withstand disasters like the frigid winter storm,” the official said.

Wholesale prices of electricity in Texas, which last year averaged $26 a megawatt hour (MWh), soared to $9,000 per MWh as local private grid operators tried to cash in on a severe electricity shortage that left around 4.3 million residents shivering in the dark last week, and some power companies made billions of dollars, according to US media reports.

As a vast country, China also faces a variety of natural disasters such as winter storms, earthquakes and typhoons, and several of central China’s provinces saw their electricity network damaged due to a historic cold spell in 2008, the official said. 

He said that the country has learned lessons about emergency preparation from the 2008 winter storm and accumulated experience in optimizing electricity grid design, operation and phased in a set of preventive tools to deal with abrupt power outages.

China’s power generation are primarily coal-fired and from hydropower sources that usually provide a reliable and stable supply, and the country has sufficient installed equipment as backup to ensure electricity supply in emergencies, the official said.

In the future, the Chinese National Energy Administration will continue to step up coordination and planning of the national electricity sector development, set up a standard system and improve power supply distribution network to ensure the safe supply and operation of the world’s largest electricity grid, the official said.

Chinese government has vowed to peak carbon emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, which offers both opportunities and challenges to the country’s electricity supply system. The official said that the difficulty of real-time electricity demand may rise, given the fluctuation of new energy supplies.

To accommodate the need for exploration of new energies, China will build a new-generation electricity system based on the electricity network and aim for breakthroughs in core technologies and equipment, as well as boost reforms and innovation to improve efficiency of the country’s national electricity generating network and resources, the official said.

Global Times

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