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Can China learn from India's blackouts?

  |   Aug. 2, 2012 at 12:08 PM
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BEIJING, Aug. 2 (UPI) -- India's massive blackout this week can offer lessons for China, says a Chinese state-run paper.

"India is stuck in a dilemma but China is also facing a developing bottleneck," states an editorial Thursday in the Communist Party-run Global Times.

The blackouts in India Monday and Tuesday -- considered the world's largest -- left half of India's population without electricity.

While China's per capita electricity consumption is still much lower than the level of developed countries, the editorial said, "the public is demanding the same living standards enjoyed by rich countries."

"China needs to generate more power to support higher living standards," it states, suggesting that China "probably needs to double the current power generation" to sustain the country's modernization drive.

But the editorial cited difficulties in further expanding electricity production, including a limited accessibility of more coal and oil for thermal power; increasing opposition to building more hydropower stations and "less bright" prospects for developing nuclear power post-Fukushima.

While China's wind power sector is growing, the editorial stated, it cannot be expected to play a major role in the country's power grid.

China now relies on coal for more than 70 percent of its energy needs.

The China Electricity Council, which represents the country's power enterprises, said in a statement this week that it estimates China to consume 4.98 trillion-5.03 trillion kilowatts of electricity during 2012, an increase of 6-7 percent year on year, attributing the growth to an expected improvement in China's economy.

Last summer, China was hit with widespread power shortages, with the total electricity deficit totaling around 30 million kilowatts in 26 provinces and municipalities.

China's National Energy Administration in June forecast this summer's shortage in China to reach 18 million kilowatts during peak hours, attributing the smaller power shortage, in comparison to last year, to lower levels of expansion in energy-intensive industries, amid an economic slowdown.

The Global Times editorial notes that China's power generation volume surpassed that of the United States last year, ranking first in the world. By contrast, India has a power generation volume one-fifth of China's scale, although India's gross domestic product is one-fourth of China's.

Denouncing the blackouts, the Times of India newspaper, in an editorial titled "India, interrupted," said India's lack of power "holds back India's industrial take-off, and prevents it from making the kind of strides in reducing poverty that China or East Asia have."

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