Thermal coal supply for electricity generation purpose will be guaranteed and power consumption won't be affected during the Lunar New Year holiday, China's top economic planner the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said with confidence in a press conference on February 11.
With the coldest time of the year passing away and most industrial plants going on holiday, power tightness will be eased during the holiday that starts from February 15 to 22, said Meng Wei, spokesman with the NDRC.
Photo – Miners are preparing at a coal mine in Datong, Shanxi province
Driven by good economic development and fast-growing production in the industrial sector, China's power usage increased 6.6% year on year to 6,307.7 TWh in 2017, while thermal coal consumption also rose by 8%, said Meng, citing data from the National Bureau of Statistics.
After large-scale blizzards hit the country for twice in the first two months this year, especially Hubei, Anhui, Hunan, Henan, Jiangxi and Jiangsu in the eastern and central regions, temperature approximated or even broke the historic lows in many places.
Affected by this, China's power consumption kept soaring during the months and drove coal burn to high levels.
According to Fenwei data, daily coal consumption averaged 755,420 tonnes in January at coastal power plants under the six major generators, up 5.57% from December and 23.21% from January in 2017.
By late-January, coal stocks decreased 11.4% compared with the same period last year at major power plants across the country, only enough to support less than 15 days of use on average.
Some power plants just had two or three days of coal stocks during the most stressful time in the central and eastern regions.
To meet the soaring demand and ease supply shortage, the NDRC as well as other departments has stepped up a series of efforts, including boosting coal output in major production provinces and prioritizing long-term contract coal transport.
The NDRC said coal production surged over 30% and 50% year on year in Shanxi and Shaanxi in January, while coal sales in the month increased more than 20% in Ordos, Inner Mongolia.
In January, the country's daily average coal shipment by railway increased 10% or above, with thermal coal jumping nearly 20% from a year ago.
With the efforts from all parties, coal supply shortage has been alleviated greatly. In February, coal supply for power plants were seen grow significantly. In February 2-8, daily coal supply averaged 6.32 million tonnes across the country, up 7% from late January; daily coal consumption averaged 6.15 million tonnes, down 5%.
By February 11, the six coastal generators' coal stocks have climbed to 13.02 days of use, for the first time exceeding 13 days since January 24.
(Writing by Alex Guo Editing by Tammy Yang)
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