China to see more blackouts this summer

Updated: 2012-04-23 17:34


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BEIJING - Some parts of China will experience severe blackouts this summer as the result of an electricity shortage of 30 to 40 million kilowatts, according to an industry report published on Monday.

Although power consumption is predicted to slow this year, growth momentum has remained steady and supplies are tight, according to a quarterly report released by the China Electricity Council (CEC).

"The shortage will hit about 30 million kilowatts during summer peak days and may expand to 40 million kilowatts if heat waves persist," the CEC warned.

China's more developed eastern and southern regions will bear the brunt of the shortages, followed by north and central China, while northeast and northwest China regions are expected to see an electricity surplus, the report said.

China has suffered seasonal power shortages in recent decades due to steadily climbing electricity use, breakneck economic growth and an unwillingness on the part of coal-fired plants to produce more energy amid rising costs and decreased prices.

Coal prices had fallen for nearly four months until the end of February. With temperatures climbing and industrial production resuming, the CEC predicted coal prices will rebound.

The CEC's prediction was correlated by data collected from north China's Qinhuangdao port, a major coal shipping center. The exit price of Shanxi-produced coal at the port increased to 790 yuan per ton as of mid-April.

With tight domestic supplies, China's coal imports will also be constrained by inadequate railway cargo services. The picture will become more grim during summer peak days and the dry season, the CEC said.

Domestic hydropower plants have resumed operation as of February, although water-rich south China has still reported low water levels, boding ill for future power supplies, the CEC warned.

The CEC advised local authorities to work out detailed plans for tiered power pricing for residents and take a new approach in balancing demand and supply.