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China Faces Outages Amid Soaring Power Demand

Areas in China have started to warn residents and businesses that peak summer demand amid a heatwave could lead to outages as electricity grids buckle under peak-load surges, Bloomberg reports.

The heatwaves in China since last week have added to the jump in electricity demand as Chinese industries are rebounding after the pandemic.

The capital city Beijing, as well as Xi’an, have warned residents and factories that there would be scheduled outages as electricity grid operators struggle to keep up with record power demand. 

Xi’an temporarily cut off power to some districts last week and has asked owners of electric vehicles (EVs) to charge them outside peak demand hours. Xi’an is the center of the Shaanxi province, a key coal-producing and consuming area in China.

The heatwave and record demand for power in China comes at a time when the state looks to ensure enough thermal coal resources to keep the lights on.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the state planner in China, asked on Sunday coal power plants to build by Wednesday coal inventories of at least seven days, according to a statement from the planner seen by Reuters.

“We are in the peak power consumption period and must guarantee coal supply to power plants...and will not allow the shutdown of power generation units due to a lack of coal,” the state planner’s statement says, as carried by Reuters.

Last week, China was set to release another 10 million tons of coal from its reserves to prevent shortages amid soaring coal prices and tight supplies in the fifth such release this year.

Because of its geopolitical spat with Australia, China has been restricting coal imports from this major supplier, which tightened the coal supply in China and led to surging coal prices. China has been forced to buy increasing amounts of Indonesian and Russian coal to accommodate domestic demand, triggering a more than 25-percent price hike compared to January levels.

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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