* Power grids in Yunnan and Guizhou will be connected
* China to promote cross-region hydropower trade and transmission (Adds details from NDRC statement)
BEIJING, Oct 24 (Reuters) - China plans to connect the power grids of the southwestern provinces of Yunnan and Guizhou and increase the power transmission capacity of Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces, the state planner said on Tuesday.
The move comes as the world’s top power user strives to reform its power system and to reduce power transmission barriers between provinces to boost energy consumption.
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in a statement that it aims to transmit at least 20 gigawatts from Sichuan and 13 GW from Yunnan to nearby provinces by the end of 2020, drawing on hydropower projects in the two provinces.
Prices for 500-kilovolt power transmission are expected to be cut in Yunnan province, the statement said, to increase the competitiveness of hydropower over coal.
The state planner also said it will promote cross-region hydropower trade by cutting coal-fired power generation in energy-intensive regions.
China generated 1.05 trillion kilowatt hours of hydropower in 2016, accounting for 17.8 percent of its total power mix and 69.4 percent of electricity generated from renewable energy.
However, the southwest parts of China have found it difficult to connect to the grids, with around 57.4 billion kWh of hydropower wasted in Yunnan and Sichuan provinces last year.
“Authorities in Yunnan and Sichuan province should upgrade their power structure...and aim to not exacerbate the hydropower curtailment problem by 2020,” the NDRC said. (Reporting by Muyu Xu and Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Manolo Serapio Jr.)