Coal shortage forces shutdowns in China

HUBEI, CHINA - After experiencing a shortage in the natural gas supply, China will soon be experiencing a shortage in its electricity supply.

About 17% of the coal-fired units in central China's Hubei province were forced to shut down because of a shortage of coal. The situation is getting worse, with more units at risk of a possible shutdown, according to Central China Power Grid Company, a regional subsidiary of the State Grid Corporation of China.

As reported, power consumption from the Central China Power Grid has been increasing since the beginning of winter.

In the second week of December, the daily average power consumption reached about 1.87 billion kilowatt-hours, an increase of 36% year over year, and the maximum load surpassed 92 gigawatts (GW), an increase of 30% year over year.

At the same time, the stockpile of power coal in power plants has decreased. So far, the total stockpile of power coal has fallen to 10.31 million metric tons, which is equivalent to 13 days of consumption. In total, 3,915 megawatts (MW) of coal-fired units in the Central China Power Grid were forced to shut down because of coal shortages, including 2,740 MW in Hubei and 1,175 MW in Hebei.

As of December 13, the stockpile of power coal in Hubei, the province in the worst circumstances, had fallen to 1.06 million metric tons, equivalent to only eight days of consumption.

Hubei has a total installed capacity of about 44 GW, about two-thirds of which is hydropower. However, because of the dry season, the output of hydropower was greatly reduced. Additionally, most of the hydropower, including that from the Three Gorges project, is transmitted out of Hubei.

In order to ensure continuous power supply, a demand-side control plan was implemented, which began December 12. As of December 16, demand control was being applied to 600 factories in Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei.


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