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Experts: Severe Power Shortages to Occur Frequently in the Coming Five Years

State media China News Weekly (中国新闻周刊) quoted experts who expect that, against the backdrop of “carbon peak” and “carbon neutral” targets, it is expected that a larger scale and more severe power shortages will occur frequently during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021 to 2025).

The recent blackouts in China have affected more than 10 provinces, among which the Northeastern provinces have had to “pull the plug” and cut residential power usage completely.

Between 2016 and 2020, China cut its coal production capacity of over 1 billion tons. Yuan Jiahai, a professor at North China Electric Power University, pointed out the fact that the country’s annual coal production was between 5 and 3.75 billion tons, respectively before and after the cut in capacity.

Since last year, the coal-producing province of Inner Mongolia has been affected by the coal business-related anti-corruption campaign. A large volume of coal production capacity has been reduced due to factors such as an increased measure of safety supervision of coal mining, environmental protection, and the criminalization of the overcapacity of production.

On the demand side, since 2017, China’s coal consumption has rebounded back to an annual level of 4 billion tons, while the advanced coal production capacity released in these two years is about 200 million to 300 million tons per annum. There is a gap between total coal supply and demand.

According to Feng Yongsheng, a scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, against the backdrop of the “carbon peak,” and the “carbon neutral” target, because the generation of renewable energy is random, volatile and intermittent, a high proportion of new energy in the power system will lead to a growing gap between the peak and base power load, or the difference in the electric generation between high demand and minimum level required. Feng expected that during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021 to 2025) period, there will be frequent occurrences of large scale and sever power shortages in China.

Source: Central News Agency, October 4, 2021