China’s already prodigious coal output will be increased even further to brace for the coming winter, without the slightest concern for what climate change activists think about all that dirty carbon burning, according to a report by the state-run Global Times on Wednesday.
The Global Times threw in a token claim about “ramping up the volume of power generated from new-energy sources,” but coal is the workhorse of Chinese energy, so the government is creating a “system ready for the daily dispatch of coal output nationwide and a mechanism to monitor prices and inventories.”
China is prepared to burn as much coal as it takes to avoid last year’s winter power shortages:
Coal producers have increased output to ensure supply. In the first three quarters, the output of industrial raw coal by enterprises above designated size was 3.32 billion tons, up 11.2 percent year-on-year, according to statistics released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Monday.
The fourth quarter is the peak season for coal use. In addition to heating, coal supplies for power generation also need to be guaranteed, a veteran industry insider told the Global Times on Tuesday.
“This winter, it’s unlikely we’ll see power outages seen last year. One of the most important reasons is the implementation of the electricity price mechanism reform, which enhanced the willingness of thermal power enterprises to produce electricity,” said the insider, noting that the increased connection of new-energy sources with power grids also helps ease power shortage.
According to the Global Times’ energy industry sources, the biggest concern is that “extreme weather might disrupt rail transport” and slow those massive coal shipments. One railroad in particular, the Datong-Qinhuangdao Railway, moves almost a quarter of China’s coal and supplies 350 power plants, in addition to ten “major iron and steel enterprises.”
The Chinese government, therefore, instructed power plant operators to “strive for a relatively high inventory level, in case extreme weather disrupts coal transportation.”
In addition to enormous domestic production, China imports all the coal it can get its hands on, including a booming supply from its ally Russia.
Reuters reported on Wednesday that China increased its orders for Russian coal after coronavirus lockdowns halted some key domestic mining operations, only to discover it did not have sufficient rail capacity to carry the surging coal orders. China’s overall coal imports from Russia actually fell by almost 1.5 million tonnes last month due to the shipping bottlenecks, with numerous orders delayed or canceled outright.
China has also constructed almost 650 power plants in other countries, largely fueled by coal, resulting in a “carbon footprint” that exceeds the total emissions of Spain, according to a report published on Tuesday by the Global Development Policy Center at Boston University.
The UK Guardian noted last week that coal power projects have become “effectively uninsurable” everywhere but China, as insurance companies strive to choke out the coal power industry by refusing to cover power plants or coal shipments.