BEIJING, Jan 9 (Reuters) - China’s installed electricity generating capacity reached around 710 gigawatts (GW) at the end of 2007, in line with lower-end expectations for last year’s expansion, a senior energy official said on Wednesday.
The new capacity implied a rise of around 90 GW from the 622 GW of generating equipment in place at the end of 2006 and was equivalent to more than all of Britain’s power stations.
Xu Dingming, Director General of the Office of the National Energy Leading group, told a clean energy technology forum that the 710 GW figure was a rough total based on preliminary statistics.
The majority of the new capacity will be fuelled by coal, which supplies over 80 percent of China’s electricity but is causing increasing concerns about its contribution to domestic air pollution and global warming.
National leaders, also worried about a growing dependence on imported fuels, have pledged to cut the energy used to generate each dollar of national income by 20 percent by 2010.
In 2007, China planned to replace 10 GW of capacity at small power stations with larger-scale generators, saving up to 13.6 million tonnes of coal a year and eliminating 230,000 tonnes of acid rain-causing sulphur dioxide emissions.
It also aims to eliminate small coal and fuel oil-burning stations with overall capacity of 50 GW — or around 8 percent of the national total — by the end of the decade.
But Xu said a rise in the frequency of extreme weather events last year was a warning of the urgent need for China to press ahead with energy saving goals. (Reporting by Emma Graham-Harrison)