Guangdong limits factories' electricity supply as summer peak comes early
Published: May 26, 2021 07:18 PM
Electricians from China Southern Power Grid in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, check the high voltage cables hanging about 50 meters in the air on May 29, 2018. Photo: VCG

Electricians from China Southern Power Grid in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, check the high voltage cables hanging about 50 meters in the air on May 29, 2018. Photo: VCG

Factories in South China's Guangdong Province were told recently by local authorities to curtail their electricity use, and some said that the move had influenced their daily operations and production. 

Peak usage in 2021 is arriving earlier in the province than in previous years, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

The energy bureau of Guangdong Province announced on May 21 that electricity consumption in the factory sector jumped 32.2 percent year-on-year in the first four months, while that in the services sector soared 40.2 percent. 

The surges may have been caused by rising temperatures and an industry recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Zhang Chuanming, president of JZ Energy Co, a leading company in the electricity industry in Guangdong Province, said that surging prices of bulk commodities, including coal used for power generation, have raised the cost of generating electricity and limited the capacity of power plants.

Some factories in Guangdong Province told the Global Times on Wednesday that their normal operations were affected by the power curbs. 

"We were informed to stop production for two days a week, according to the electricity limitation policies," said a staff member surnamed Miao at a copper factory in Jiangmen. He noted that the factory's scheduled delivery dates were delayed as a result. 

An anonymous staff member at a ceramics factory in Zhaoxing said that limited electricity had affected the operation of ovens. 

China Southern Grid told the Global Times on Wednesday that the electricity curbs were implemented due to a provincial electricity shortage, and they were intended to ensure stable electricity supply. 

The person said that the situation is a temporary approach being taken during the peak period, without revealing a clear date when it will stop. Zhang said that the province's power generation capacity can meet total annual demand, but it may not be enough at peak periods.

Recent increases in the price of thermal coal had reduced the revenue and initiative of coal-powered plants in Guangdong Province. 

"For example, at the largest power generation group -- Guangdong Energy Group Co -- 16 of its 18 power plants lost money in the first quarter of 2021," said Zhang. 

Zhang said that the power shortages mainly reflected a temporary imbalance between supply and demand, but higher coal prices were also a factor.

"Domestically produced coal can meet the market demand, but bulk commodities need supervision by the relevant authorities to prevent higher prices being felt along the industry chain," said Zhang. 

China's top economic planner announced on Tuesday an action plan for strengthening price mechanism reform during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25).

The agency highlighted the need to respond properly to the price fluctuations for iron ore, copper, coal and other bulk commodities, as part of the effort to achieve the national strategic goal of "carbon peak, carbon neutral."