Key Chinese cities have warned that homes and factories face new power outages, as historic demand and supply shortages strain energy grids.
Populous centers — including Beijing and Xian — have alerted electricity users there would be scheduled disruptions as grid operators struggle to maintain overloaded networks.
Eleven provinces, including eastern manufacturing hubs and landlocked central China, which also suffered outages during last winter’s cold spell, reported record demand and peak-load surges last week, State Grid Corp of China (國家電網) said.
The nation’s electricity providers are experiencing similar pressures seen in the US and other hot spots around the world as temperatures reach alarming levels during the early weeks of summer.
Exacerbating the situation in China is a strong economic rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, which helped spur a 10 percent surge in power consumption last month.
The heat waves and increased power demand are putting further strain on the coal industry, China’s main energy source. Thermal coal futures yesterday climbed to as high as 926 yuan per tonne, approaching an intraday record of 944.2 yuan set in May, as supply concerns grow.
China’s top market regulator, the National Development and Reform Commission, has vowed a massive buildup of coal reserves.
The commission sent a notice to the six biggest state-owned power firms requiring them to restock enough coal for more than seven days by today to prevent unplanned blackouts.
The policy paper, which has been circulating since Monday, suggests to traders that the high demand would last until the middle of next month.
China would also encourage more output of wind, solar, hydro and nuclear power to meet summer peak demand, commission spokesman Jin Xiandong (金賢東) said on Monday.
Beijing last week cut off power to an industrial park for half-an-hour during a thunderstorm, and warned some surrounding villages and districts of planned outages that could last about 11 hours.
Xian, the capital of China’s coal-heavy Shaanxi Province, has asked owners to charge their electric vehicles during off-peak hours. It temporarily cut power to several districts as temperatures remained above 35°C, the local grid operator said in a press conference last week.
Meanwhile, the heat waves across the nation are causing floods that disrupt coal production and transportation at mines and harbors, further creating upheaval in supplies.
The China Coal Transportation and Distribution Association expects industrial power demand to grow 15 percent this summer, while demand in the service sector is forecast to increase more than 17 percent from a year earlier.
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