ProsperityOnThePlateau: Electricity consumption in Tibet doubled in 5 years

Publish Time: 2021-01-09 Author: From: Xinhua

Electricity consumption across Tibet has doubled in the past five years. For those living in the region, a stable supply of electricity not only powers the home but also a better life.

LHASA, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- "Several years ago, people barely purchased high-power home appliances because of the low voltage and the lack of electricity here," said Li Zi'e, the owner of an electric appliance store in Shiquanhe Township, Tibet's Ngari Prefecture.

With an average altitude of more than 4,500 meters, the harsh environment of Ngari Prefecture is known for its high elevation and low oxygen concentration.

Kelsang (L) and her daughter watch TV in their home in Zhaxizom Township in Xigaze, Tibet Autonomous Region, southwest China, on Jan. 20, 2020. (Xinhua/Sun Fei)

For most people, there is nothing special about turning on a lamp at night or switching on an electric heater in winter. Yet, for the people of Tibet Autonomous Region, southwest China, their location meant that these trappings of modern life were all but out of reach.

The fates of the people of this region have drastically changed thanks to the introduction of clean energy and bulk grid construction, marking an end to this dark and cold chapter of history. Over the past five years, electricity consumption across Tibet has risen from about 4.05 billion kWh to over 8.24 billion kWh by 2020, an increase of more than 100 percent.

File photo shows a photovoltaic power station in Nagqu, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. (Photo by Liu Dongjun/Xinhua)

"With a stable power supply, we now have more customers. Air conditioners, electric heaters, and freezers are flying off the shelves," said Li.

Electricity has not only gone on to power home appliances but also better lives for those living on the plateau.

File photo shows part of the Zam Hydropower Station in Tibet Autonomous Region, southwest China. (Photo by Dong Zhixiong/Xinhua)

Before the peaceful liberation of Tibet, the region only had a small hydropower station with a capacity of 125 kilowatts. It only generated electricity, and even then it was intermittent, for the privileged few.

After the peaceful liberation, things began to change. Electric lights became commonplace for all in the capital city of Lhasa from 1960 when Ngaqen Hydropower Station was put into service. Since then, more stations, including Yangbajain Geothermal Power Station and Yamzhog Yumco Hydropower Station, have followed. In more recent years, large-scale photovoltaic stations have been added to the power network.

In 2010, China began the construction of three grid-interconnection projects that not only interlink places across Tibet but also connect the region to Qinghai and Sichuan.

Photo taken on Oct. 30, 2020, shows the transmission towers of a power grid interconnection project in Ngari Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region, southwest China. (Xinhua)

In the background of these huge projects, Tibet started to develop its power grid to cover more and more rural and impoverished areas. By the end of 2020, some 3.3 million people have had access to electricity.

On Dec. 4, 2020, after years of isolation, it was the turn of Ngari Prefecture to be switched on, too, when a new grid interconnection project was put into operation.

Aerial photo taken on Nov. 29, 2020, shows a 220-kilovolt substation of a power grid interconnection project in Tibet Autonomous Region, southwest China. (Xinhua/Zhan Yan)

"Electricity is related to not only economic and social development but also people's livelihoods and social stability," said Wang Gang, chairman of the State Grid Tibet Electric Power Company, adding that, looking ahead, sufficient and stable energy supply will continue to play an important supporting role for life and work in Tibet.

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