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Coal shortage brings fear of electricity crisis in China

China’s sprawling industrial heartland is braced for an electricity crisis as the closure of unsafe coalmines before the Olympic Games and the rising price of coal have left many power stations either without the fuel they need or unable to make a profit.

Energy experts believe that China’s coal shortage could trigger its worst spate of blackouts and brownouts in four years, hitting the metals and manufacturing sectors especially hard.
Coal generates 80 per cent of the country’s power and has been the predominant fuel of China’s economic boom. State energy authorities have given warning of long-term coal deficits at power plants in the world’s second-largest energy user. China, also the world’s biggest consumer of coal, could continue to face coal-related disruptions into the winter.

Transportation issues, typhoons and widespread pit closures have left many power stations without enough coal to fire their generators.

Across China, 51 power plant units have been closed because of the lack of coal, removing almost 3 per cent of national capacity and prompting electricity rationing in 14 provinces.

Yesterday, the State Grid Corporation of China said that 46 per cent of the stations connected to its grid had coal stockpiles below the official “caution line”, enough to last only seven days.

Central Government is expecting an overall power shortfall of about ten gigawatts over the summer, but the combined forecasts of the country’s individual provinces suggest that the real shortage could be more than three times as severe.

The Times

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