China now faces a 69.63 million kilowatt electricity supply
shortfall, and a total of 13 provincial level power grids have been
temporarily switched off to limit power usage, the People's
Central China Power Grid has begun to ration electricity to the
Hubei and Sichuan provinces and Chongqing Municipality due to an
acute shortage in coal stockpiles and strained coal transportation
affected by adverse weather conditions, the Beijing News
reported on Tuesday.
The region now has only 5.57 million tons of coal remaining,
only half that of the normal level, and enough to meet only seven
days of consumption volume, earlier reports said. The central
Chinese power grid covers the provinces of Jiangxi, Hubei, Hunan
and Sichuan, as well as Chongqing Municipality.
Statistics from the State Power Control Center shows the country
burned 2.1 million tons of coal for power generation on January 20,
while national stock dropped to 17.73 million tons from 20 million
tons on January 10.
An insider with the State Grid was quoted by the Beijing News as
noting that the national inventory of coal must be kept at no less
than 14 million tons by the end of this month in order to ensure
stable power supplies.
An official with the China Coal Transportation and Marketing
Association said that since some coal mines in Shanxi Province have
been closed for safety overhauls, production in the coal-rich
province has dropped sharply, and is now barely enough to supply
local power plants.
Meanwhile, the recent widespread snowfall in the central and
eastern parts of the country have affected some railways and roads,
delaying transportation. Power consumption has also surged
significantly in the winter season.
To address the rapidly decreasing coal supply, the State Grid
has requested that the National Development and Reform Commission
(NDRC) commence a demand-side management strategy to maximize
available resources, the paper reported.
The country's top economic planning agency has responded by
vowing to guarantee the continued operation of key power plants and
arrange for coal transportation to power generators.
(CRI January 23, 2008)