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China looks to imports for power shortfall
by Staff Writers
Beijing (UPI) Jun 2, 2011

China plans to increase energy imports to address the country's looming summer power shortfall, the government announced.

"With the coming of summer, the peak time for energy consumption and the rapid growth of industrial production, the gap between electricity demand and supply will become more obvious and some areas may face a shortfall in coal and oil supplies," the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planner, said in a statement, China Daily newspaper reports.

NDRC said the current decline in coal imports is due to rising international coal prices which are about $15 more a ton than domestic prices. China relies on coal for more than 70 percent of its energy needs.

State-run news agency Xinhua on Wednesday reported the NDRC as saying it will urge the country's mining regions and coal producers to increase production as well as adopt measures to boost coal imports.

Although NDRC didn't provide figures on the energy sources China plans to import, it noted that imports of natural gas have increased "relatively rapidly."

In its forecast last week, State Grid Corp. of China, the country's largest power distributor, said the power situation in eastern and coastal regions is likely to be worse than 2004, China's worst power crunch so far.

"This year will be the toughest for electricity supply in China," said SGCC Deputy General Manager Shuai Junqing, adding that he expects the situation to become "even worse" over the next two years.

SGCC says the electricity deficit this summer will total 30 million kilowatts in 26 provinces and municipalities, including Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Jiangsu.

Several power plants have announced price hikes for industrial, industrial, commercial and agricultural electricity effective Wednesday night.

Li Yang, director general of the NDRC's Bureau of Economic Operations Adjustment, attributed the electricity shortage to a range of factors including energy-guzzling projects in a number of provinces, and severe droughts which have affected areas served by hydropower.

But he stressed that "the root cause for the power supply shortfall in some areas is the unbalanced economic structure and the unrestrained use of energy."

While China's power shortage a few years ago was fueled by insufficient installed capacity, this crunch is due to the pricing system, said Professor Lin Boqiang, director of China Energy Economy Research Center with Xiamen University.

"The market now fully decides thermal coal's price but the state still strictly controls electricity prices in China," Lin said.

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EU: Greenhouse gas emissions fell in 2009
Brussels (UPI) Jun 1, 2011
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