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Coal coal_china

Published on January 14th, 2010 | by Susan Kraemer

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Coal-Power Shortage Threatened in China

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January 14th, 2010 by  

We’ve heard of coal powered electric power stations having to be shut off in extended drought conditions – like Australia has had for the last decade – because the water needed to run the power plant is even more needed simply for drinking water supplies.

Today, in news from China: electric power is in danger of being shut off due not to hot weather, but to cold weather.

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Any time coal reserves go lower than three days, coal-fired power plants must shut down. Eleven percent of the key coal producing provinces’ power plants are close to getting to that point. Coal reserves at power stations are in dangerously short supply.

As of Sunday, coal reserves in 598 major power plants were decreasing and were only enough to last for nine days. Coal storage in 205 power plants will last for seven days, an alarming level, the National Power Dispatch and Communication Center said.

The local government will move more than 5,400 local people to safer places.

On Sunday, Shanxi, Shandong, Henan, Hubei and Chongqing continued electricity rationing because of power shortages. Rather than the poor weather conditions causing a difficulty in mining coal, or of shipping it by railroad, Mining News, claims the shortage was caused by excessive use of electricity for heating.

Beijing, with its population of over 17 million, saw temperatures hovering around zero degrees – the lowest record in the capital since the 1970′s. Beijing meteorological authorities have publicly acknowledged that climate change may be the cause of such extreme weather events.

Image: Flikr user Renown

Source: China Daily

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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today, PV-Insider , SmartGridUpdate, and GreenProphet. She has also been published at Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.



  • Susan Kraemer

    No, I mean that the demand was up for electric heat in Beijing houses due to their “cold” weather (though no worse than Minnesota) so they had a shortage, like we have shortages if too many people turn on air conditioners at the same time.

    That they can’t withstand Minnesota winter suggests housing insulation needs improving.

  • Susan Kraemer

    That was my first thought too, Rich, that there were problems mining in the snow or the railroads couldn’t deliver through the snow, but on searching about, found that the consensus seemed to be just that demand was up, which suggests better insulation in housing is needed, as Frank suggests.

  • rich EE

    OK Susan ,

    If I understand you correctly ,the problem is

    inadequate coal storage facilities at the power

    plants . Of course , longer term they need better

    insulation etc.

  • rich EE

    OK Susan ,

    If I understand you correctly ,the problem is

    inadequate coal storage facilities at the power

    plants . Of course , longer term they need better

    insulation etc.

  • Susan Kraemer

    No, I mean that the demand was up for electric heat in Beijing houses due to their “cold” weather (though no worse than Minnesota) so they had a shortage, like we have shortages if too many people turn on air conditioners at the same time.

    That they can’t withstand Minnesota winter suggests housing insulation needs improving.

  • Susan Kraemer

    That was my first thought too, Rich, that there were problems mining in the snow or the railroads couldn’t deliver through the snow, but on searching about, found that the consensus seemed to be just that demand was up, which suggests better insulation in housing is needed, as Frank suggests.

  • rich EE

    If the plants need more coal , then more needs to be delivered .

    Is there a problem emergency ordering more ?

    Perhaps the weakness of their command economy is starting to show .

    Either that or their railway infrastructure is

    inadequate for the amount needed .

  • rich EE

    If the plants need more coal , then more needs to be delivered .

    Is there a problem emergency ordering more ?

    Perhaps the weakness of their command economy is starting to show .

    Either that or their railway infrastructure is

    inadequate for the amount needed .

  • Frank Hanlan

    Calling the cold and heavy snowfall in Beijing a “freak storm” creates the danger that citizens and city officials won’t seriously consider long term climate change. It sounds as if among other things they need to examine their building codes for energy efficiency ie. air tightness, insulation levels, passive solar design, etc.

  • Frank Hanlan

    Calling the cold and heavy snowfall in Beijing a “freak storm” creates the danger that citizens and city officials won’t seriously consider long term climate change. It sounds as if among other things they need to examine their building codes for energy efficiency ie. air tightness, insulation levels, passive solar design, etc.

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