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2020-12-22 10:51:07

A top official from China’s National Development and Reform Commission has assured the public that the country has ample coal to meet domestic demand, amid reports that several provinces were limiting power in response to a coal crunch.

Zhao Chenxin, the commission’s secretary-general, told reporters his office had instructed northern provinces like Shanxi and Shaanxi, as well as the Inner Mongolia region — China’s major coal-producing hubs — to increase output and coordinate to meet regional needs.

“Rest assured that as we monitor the coal storage of power plants, both the number of days of coal storage and the total amount of coal stored are guaranteed,” Zhao said Monday during a press conference in Beijing.

Last week, at least three provinces in eastern and central China — Zhejiang, Jiangxi, and Hunan — said they were taking measures to limit power to businesses and factories during peak hours, as higher demand during the winter months had resulted in regional power shortages.

Hunan and Jiangxi separately reported over 18% growth in power usage during the first 10 days of December compared with the same period last year, according to Zhao.

The power shortfalls come as several provinces are switching from coal-fired boilers to cleaner forms of energy, such as electricity and gas, to power factories and warm homes. The move is part of China’s ambitious plan to be carbon neutral by 2060.

Following reports of power shortages, China’s government-backed power company, State Grid, said Saturday it was working to “send power at its maximum capacity” to provinces like Hunan and Jiangxi that are facing higher demand for electricity amid the current coal crunch, according to Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper. State Grid added that its Hunan branch was in “wartime mode” to coordinate power contributions from other regions.

The China Energy Investment Corporation, a state-owned energy company, said it, too, is working to increase thermal power production to potentially ease the situation in affected provinces and “stabilize the price of coal,” according to The Paper.

While power restrictions in Jiangxi and Hunan are due to local power crunches, supply in Zhejiang is abundant, Zhao said, adding that “some individual cities are limiting power to save energy and cut emissions.”

Meanwhile, local power suppliers are trying to allay public concerns about power usage amid sporadic blackouts.

Some districts in the southern city of Guangzhou were left without power for an hour on Monday night, which the local power company’s spokesperson attributed to technical issues. On Tuesday, State Grid Shanghai also assured residents that the city would not face power restrictions after talk of possible power outages went viral on social media.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: An aerial view of a power plant in Beijing, Feb. 10, 2017. People Visual)