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China Calls for ‘Urgent’ Coal Production to Stave Off Blackouts



The premier of China’s State Council, Li Keqiang, “urged” energy officials to ramp up coal production this week to stave off electricity blackouts across several Chinese provinces experiencing record power usage during a regional heatwave, the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper reported Friday.

Li, who heads China’s top administrative authority, “urged tapping into advanced coal capacity, securing power supply and resolutely preventing power outages amid the peak summer season,” the Guardian reported June 24, citing Chinese state media.

China’s state-run Global Times first quoted Li as making the coal production request on June 21 hours after he completed an “inspection tour” of northern China’s Hebei province. Li suggested that the daily economic operations and “basic livelihoods” of Chinese citizens were at stake should energy authorities fail to produce additional coal in the affected territory.

Nearly one dozen provinces across China’s north, central, and eastern regions have reported record-high electricity usage since early June when an ongoing heat wave began to grip the area. China’s state-run power grid, officially known as the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), supplies electricity to over 1.1 billion people across 26 provinces, regions, and municipalities. The grid is heavily reliant upon coal to power its energy plants.

The Global Times cited recent SGCC data to detail China’s latest power crisis on June 21, writing.

The maximum power demand so far this month reached 844 million kilowatts, and in Northwest China and North China, demand was up 8.81 percent and 3.21 percent from the same period last year […] State Grid’s maximum power demand in Central China’s Henan Province set a record of 65.34 million kilowatts on Sunday [June 19].

In East China’s Jiangsu Province, maximum power demand exceeded 100 million kilowatts on June 17 for the first time this summer and 19 days earlier than in 2021. […]

Power demand has risen as temperatures climb, with homes and businesses cranking up air conditioning, Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, told the Global Times on Tuesday [June 21].

China suffered from nationwide power shortages and blackouts for several months last year. The electricity outages started in May 2021 due to mass coal shortages. SGCC announced in November 2021, after months of sporadic blackouts, that the power crisis would persist to some degree through spring 2022.