Coal shortages have closed down power stations with an aggregate
capacity of up to 40.99 million kilowatts in China, or 7 percent of
the capacity of China's thermal power plants, said the State
Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC) on Monday.
SERC figures show that coal reserves now stand at a little more
than 21 million tons, less than half of the normal reserves. Nearly
90 power plants, which account for over one tenth of the national
gross installed capacity, have less than three days coal
Coal transport has been hampered by a combination of the bad
weather that has affected much of the country and rising passenger
rail traffic as the Spring Festival approaches. In addition, the
cold weather also increased coal demand for heating and heavy rail
traffic is also pushing up demand for coal to power the rail
Only an average of less than 25 percent of the daily demand for
coal shipment by rail has been met, according to the Ministry of
Snow and ice cut off electricity transmission lines and halted
at least 136 trains in central Hunan Province on a major rail
artery linking Beijing and Guangzhou last Saturday.
Some coal mines went on recess ahead of the Spring Festival,
while many regions have closed small, unsafe mines as part of the
national campaign for safe coal production, also leading to a
decrease in supply, said Zhu Hongren, deputy director of the Bureau
of Economic Operations with the National Development and Reform
The Ministry of Railways said that it had beefed up coal
movements since last Saturday, loading a record of about 36,000
coal cars per day or 30 percent more than a year earlier.
Zhu urged local governments to impose strict limits on
electricity use by enterprises operating at excess capacity or
those that had high energy consumption or heavy pollution
"Under the circumstances, the bad elements may continue and
exacerbate the power strain," said Zhu, demanding that all regions
improve emergency plans.
Severe weather has affected most of China since mid-January,
especially south China, disrupting power, transport and
communications. The Ministry of Information Industry said mobile
communication interruptions had affected more than 33 million
mobile phone users and caused direct losses of nearly 80 million
yuan (about US$11 million) by last Sunday.
Late on Monday, the China Meteorological Administration (CMA)
issued an orange alert for severe snowstorms in southern China.
Heavy snow is set to blanket Hubei, Anhui, Jiangsu and Hunan
provinces in the next three days. Further, sleet will continue to
pound parts of Guizhou, Hunan, Jiangxi and Guangxi provinces,
according to CMA.
The prolonged snow, the worst in a decade in many places, has
hit most of China since mid-January, leaving homes collapsed, power
blacked out, highways closed and crops destroyed. The weather has
killed 24 people since Jan. 10, the Ministry of Civil Affairs
said on Monday, and more than 77.86 million people had been
affected by snow in 14 provinces.
The snow has affected more than 4.2 million hectares of
farmland. It had also caused the collapse of 107,000 houses and
damaged 399,000 other homes, leading to a direct economic loss of
22.09 billion yuan.
(Xinhua News Agency January 29, 2008)