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Coal shortage causes power cuts in China: state media

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Dec 20, 2010
A severe coal shortage has forced power cuts in many regions in China as demand surged due to a cold snap across large swathes of the nation over the past week, state media reported Monday.

In the northern province of Shaanxi, 14 major thermal power stations only had four days worth of coal stocks left, with reserves at two power stations already running out, the Global Times said.

Many plants and residents in Shaanxi had received notice of impending blackouts, with a 12,000-household compound in the provincial capital of Xian facing power cuts for the next 10 days, it added.

Similar shortages have also gripped other provinces including coal-rich Shanxi in the north and Henan in central China, as well as the southwestern mega-city of Chongqing, the report said.

China, which overtook Japan in the second quarter to be the world's second largest economy, relies on coal for 70 percent of its fast-growing energy needs and coal combustion has become one of the main sources of its air pollution.

Experts have blamed the shortages on soaring coal prices, insufficient logistics facilities and increasing transportation costs, the Global Times said.

Some power cuts may be unrelated to the coal shortages, as local governments struggle to meet the annual energy efficiency targets set by Beijing, the China Daily said Monday.

China has sought to reduce energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product -- so-called carbon intensity -- by 20 percent by year's end from 2005 levels.

A 15.6 percent reduction was realised from 2006 to 2009, officials said previously. But the figure increased 0.09 percent in the first half of 2010 year-on-year, signalling the difficulties in meeting the 2010 target.

At global climate talks in Copenhagen last year, China pledged that it would reduce carbon intensity by 40-45 percent by 2020 based on 2005 levels.

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