China holds enough coal as power loads hit new peaks: state planner
China is holding sufficient thermal coal stocks thanks to months of peak domestic mining, ensuring stable supply, the state economic planner said on Thursday, two days after the national power load hit a new high amid summer heat waves.
Several Chinese cities broke new records for high temperatures on Tuesday as scorching heat and contrasting relentless rains wreaked havoc, with forecasters expecting weather extremes to linger for days.
This had led the nation's maximum power load reaching a record 1.22 billion kilowatts on Tuesday, the state planner said.
Power generation was 27.854 billion kilowatt-hours on the same day, Li Yunqing, director of the Operation Bureau at the National Development and Reform Commission told a news briefing.
Such provinces and regions as Shanxi, Shaanxi, Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang were leading economic expansion, stepping up mining and raw materials manufacturing, the planner added, pointing to sources of rising electricity demand.
Key manufacturers in the financial hub of Shanghai were consuming twice as much electricity as they did a year ago.
The planning agency was making every effort to ensure energy supply during the summer peak demand period, he added. So far, supply had been stable.
Overall power demand from China is forecast to grow much more slowly in 2022 than in normal years, due to lockdowns and restrictions on movement during COVID-19 outbreaks.
A surge in hydropower output in China this year, boosted by record-breaking rainfall, is also helping the world's biggest electricity user avert power shortages and reduce coal consumption.
"The chances of China repeating the sort of power squeeze (it suffered) last autumn is fairly low as the government has long called for maintaining abundant thermal coal supplies. Higher hydropower generation is also helping on the supply side," said Lara Dong, senior director with China Power and Renewables at S&P Global Commodity Insights.
Last year, lower domestic coal production and a drop in hydropower generation led to a weeks-long power crunch that hit manufacturing across the world's second-largest economy.
Li said the state planner was urging coal regions to increase production where possible. Power plants had 170 million tons of coal in storage, an increase of nearly 60 million tons over the same time last year, enough for 26 days' use, he added.
The scale of unplanned outages and output obstructions of coal power generation had dropped to the lowest level in many years, and the peak output of gas power generation had increased significantly, the official said.