Coal shortages have closed down more power stations with an
aggregate capacity of up to 40.99 million kilowatts, said the State
Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC) on Monday.
The affected capacity equals to 40 percent of last year's
SERC figures show that coal reserves now stand at 21.24 million
tons, slightly higher than a week earlier, when the State Grid said
that reserves were down 40 percent year-on-year to 17.73 million
tons, equaling eight days' supply for China's power plants.
The bad weather is affecting both supply and demand for
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, the country's major family
reunion occasion, approaches. Simultaneously, cold weather has
increased coal demand for heating, and heavy rail traffic is also
pushing up demand for coal, which helps power the rail system.
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 with 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 loading
since last Saturday, loading a record of 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 consume much energy and produce heavy pollution.
"Under the circumstances, the bad weather 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,
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 (US$11 million) by last
(Xinhua News Agency January 29, 2008)