Power plants beef up production to ensure electricity supply amid surging demand under heat wave
Published: Jul 10, 2023 09:32 PM
Power plants have ramped up efforts to secure electricity supply, including increasing output at coal-fired power plants, in response to the surging demand due to a prolonged heat wave in many parts of China.

In the first week of July, China Huadian Co, major power supplier, reported a coal consumption of 4.75 million tons, a year-on-year growth of 13.5 percent. Meanwhile, as the demand for coal is rising, coal inventories in many power plants have reached a new high, according to media reports.  

Efforts have also been made by domestic coal producers to raise production. For example, Shaanxi Coal and Chemical Industry Group Co, a key coal producer in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, the nation's coal production hub, produced 14.4 million tons of coal in June alone, a year-on-year increase of 9.28 percent, according to the latest public report by the company. 

On Monday, the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) continued to issue orange alerts for high temperatures, with temperatures forecast to reach 40 C in some areas of Beijing, Hebei, Henan, Zhejiang, and Fujian.

The CMA predicts that in the next 10 days, there will be 7 to 9 days with high temperatures.

People in Shenyang travel with sun protection as the high temperature continues on June 19, 2023. Photo: VCG

People in Shenyang travel with sun protection as the high temperature continues on June 19, 2023. Photo: VCG

Experts said that the extreme weather this summer has had a significant impact on power consumption, driven by the rising use of air-conditioners and other cooling devices.

"The highest power demand in the five southern provinces could reach around 240 million kilowatts, representing a 10 percent increase year-on-year," an employee with a domestic power company told the Global Times on condition of anonymity. 

Coupled with the impact of reduced water flow in major river basins, the southern region of China faces certain challenges in ensuring power supply, the insider said.

Despite the surging demand, there should be no shortage of power supply overall, Industry analyst Zhang Feilong told the Global Times on Monday, adding that this is because China has managed to achieve basic self-sufficiency in coal, the largest source of energy, as part of the energy security measures, and the coal inventories in many power plants are staying at historically high levels.

In recent years, China's energy self-sufficiency rate has remained above 80 percent.

Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, told the Global Times that the primary task for energy supply in China is always to prioritize the supply of electricity to residential areas, and even if there is the supply gets tight, residential consumption should not be affected.

Residential electricity consumption accounts for only 17-18 percent of the total electricity consumption, while industrial electricity consumption reaches as high as 70-80 percent, Lin said.

"Residential electricity supply can be well secured by selectively suspending the supply for certain factories in a short period," Lin said.

Furthermore, China's power generation enterprises are mainly operated by state-owned companies, which ensure a stable power supply and stable electricity prices, the expert said.