Henan province faces 4 gW power shortage

Updated: 2010-12-18 15:21
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BEIJING/HONG KONG - Central China's Henan province has experienced power shortages of nearly 4 gigawatts (gW), more than 10 percent of the expected maximum electric load, and the shortfall could worsen as demand peaks and if bad weather interrupts coal transport, the local grid operator said on Friday.

Henan Grid issued an urgent notice on Dec 15 that required subordinate grid companies to implement power rationing and prioritize power supply to residential and priority users.

Large power-hungry metals smelters received more electricity supplies last month after the local power supplies were cut in October as part of efforts by local governments to help Beijing cut energy intensity by year-end.

Smelters had not received official requests from the local power authorities to cut the supplies again, smelter officials said,

"We have enough power now. We don't know and we have not received any notices about further cuts," said the manager of a large aluminum smelter in Luoyang city.

A lead smelter official in Yiyuan city said power supply had fallen slightly this week but had so far not affected production.

Small lead smelters in Lingbao city may be forced to close again if the power supply falls, a smelter official said, adding two 100,000-ton-per-year lead smelters had been allowed to restart about a third of capacity this month.

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"If the freezing weather continues for another week and civil power consumption rises, we may have problems," he said.

With more rain and snow expected over the approaching holiday season, some coal mines might reduce production or halt operations, creating uncertain conditions for supplies, according to two statements on the State Grid Corp of China's website (

A total of 46.57 gW of power generating capacity was connected to the Henan Grid, but 39 percent was temporarily unavailable because of coal shortages, maintenance and other reasons, it said.

Power plants had 2.56 million tons of coal stocks on Dec 14, far below the critical level of 3.5 million tons required during the winter season, Henan Grid said.

Coal inventories at 17 power plants with a total capacity of 15.58 gW, accounting for 39 percent of Henan's thermal power capacity, were insufficient for three days of electricity generation.

The local grid operator expected the maximum on-grid power load would rise to 35.5 gW in the winter, 3.59 gW or 11.29 percent higher than a year earlier.

The recent cold snap has also driven up the power load in neighboring Shandong province, with the maximum on-grid power load reaching 48.62 gW on Dec 15, the highest since the start of winter, Shandong Electric Power Corp said in a separate release on Friday.

Coal stocks in power plants remained enough for 15 days of generation, it said, adding that poor coal quality had led to lower output.

Falling coal stocks have threatened power supplies in some other regions.

China's National Development and Reform Commission has warned of intermittent energy shortages in the winter because of uncertain weather and demand.