China to secure energy supplies while meeting climate targets

Thermal power fuels, including coal and natural gas, account for around 70 per cent of China's electricity generation. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China will secure domestic energy supplies this winter while ensuring its climate change targets are met, a state planning official said on Wednesday (Oct 13).

The comments come as several regions grapple with their worst power crunch in years, driven by shortages of power-generating fuels, record-high coal prices and surging power demand as manufacturing activity cranks up in the world's second-largest economy.

Some factories have been forced to suspend production due to power rationing, which some analysts believe could continue into early next year.

"China's energy supply in this winter and next spring is guaranteed," Mr Zhao Chenxin, an official from the National Development and Reform Commission, told a news conference. He added that China's long-term climate goals of peak carbon by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060 will also be met.

Thermal power fuels, including coal and natural gas, account for around 70 per cent of China's electricity generation, according to National Bureau of Statistics.

Mr Zhao also said the country will forbid local governments to shut coal mines without authorisation, and will urge the closed coal mines in China's top mining hubs Shanxi, Inner Mongolia and Shaanxi to rectify their problems and resume production as soon as possible. Heavy flooding recently has forced a number of mines to halt production.

China has reviewed some 976 coal mines and approved 153 of them for expansion, which can add 55 million tonnes of coal output in the fourth quarter, said an official from the National Mine Safety Administration, the coal mining safety watchdog.

Daily coal output has reached the highest level since February at more than 11.2 million tonnes, while the total coal inventory available for dispatch in the country can support 15 days of use, according to another official.

Mr Zhao also said that China has secured 174.4 billion cubic m of natural gas sources and established more than 27 cubic m of gas storage so far.

State Grid official Li Ming expects China's maximum power load to reach 1,000 gigawatts (GW) this winter, well above the previous winter record of 970GW and 948GW this summer.

Some 17 regions managed by State Grid in China have enforced power consumption cuts since September.

But the authorities reiterated that the output boost will not compromise safety standards in the often accident-prone coal mining sector.

"Production expansion will be implemented in an orderly manner," said the official from the safety watchdog.

Beijing this week announced it will allow power prices to move up by more than 20 per cent from base levels for high energy-intensity industries, and the state planner also said it will instruct local governments to publish the list of such firms and restrain any illegal power consumption by them.

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