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China Expects No Major Blackouts Despite Blazing Hot Summer

China is confident it can get through a hot summer of record temperatures and soaring power demand without experiencing major blackouts, authorities say.  

Coal reserves at coal-fired power plants were at record-high levels as of the end of June, according to Jin Xiandong, a spokesman for the country’s top planning body, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), quoted by Bloomberg.

Last year, China experienced power outages as a heatwave depleted hydropower reservoirs and coal prices were at record highs. Power cuts were enacted in some parts of southwestern China. Back then, the outages led to factory shutdowns and declines in manufacturing production in August, which further weighed on the weak economic growth in China last year. The drought and heat waves were so extreme that the major hydroelectricity-generating province of Sichuan ordered all factories to close for days to help ease the pressure on the power supply.

This year, power demand is also soaring as heatwaves descended on China, resulting in a record-breaking temperature for the middle of July, at 52.2 degrees Celsius (126 Fahrenheit) in the northwestern Xinjiang region this weekend.

But this year, China is better prepared to meet soaring demand, authorities say. Coal output has increased from last year and coal imports have surged, while top officials are meeting with power firms and the state grid operator to stress the importance of keeping power on during the summer, when China also hopes to see its economy rebounding from the lower-than-expected growth in the second quarter.

China’s coal output, with coal generating around 60% of China’s electricity, has increased this year, up by 4.4% in the first half of 2023 compared to the same period of 2022. Coal imports into China have surged year to date, resulting in record-high levels of coal stocks at power plants.

This has made Chinese authorities more optimistic about going through the hot summer without power rationing or factory closures.  

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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