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Nation eyes coal capacity reserve system

By LIU YUKUN | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-07 09:20

Employees shovel coal at a railway station in Pingxiang, Jiangxi province. LI GUIDONG/FOR CHINA DAILY

China aims to establish a coal capacity reserve system by 2027 and achieve a capacity reserve of 300 million metric tons per year for coal that can be dispatched by 2030, said a draft statement released by the country's economic regulator for public comment on Wednesday.

The move is to ensure energy security through more flexible coal supplies at peak times of power use, in the context of a significant increase in grid-connected renewable energy that is characterized by its intermittent nature, experts said.

According to the draft released by the National Development and Reform Commission, coal mines that can apply for the construction of reserve capacity should be newly approved or under construction with national authorization. The designed production capacity of these mines should not be less than 3 million tons per year each.

Jiang Liping, former deputy head of the State Grid Energy Research Institute, highlighted the challenges in power system operations and management in the current low-carbon scenario. The increasing share of wind and solar energy and their intermittent nature pose difficulties in real-time balance during extreme weather conditions, she said.

Lin Boqiang, head of the China Institute for Studies in Energy Policy at Xiamen University in Fujian province, said: "Coal production capacity had been tightened in the past decade and renewable energies played an increasingly important role in power generation. However, renewable energy sources are not fit for dispatch due to their fluctuating nature, making electricity supply an issue during peak times or extreme weather. Coal can be a good supplement in such scenarios and thus ensure energy security."

In the first three quarters of this year, crude coal production hit 3.44 billion tons, up 3 percent year-on-year. Coal imports surged 73.1 percent year-on-year to 350 million tons, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

During the China Coal Trade Fair in Tangshan, Hebei province, on Tuesday, 32 major coal enterprises signed medium- and long-term coal contracts for 2024, totaling around 400 million tons.

The China National Coal Association predicted China's coal imports will reach around 450 million tons this year on growing demand.

Liang Jiakun, head of the association, said the proportion of modernized coal mines with a focus on safety, efficiency, intelligence and environmental sustainability has reached 80 percent of the total as of date.

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