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Restrictions on electricity use expected to be eased

According to the latest China Electricity Council data, electricity consumption during the first seven months of this year soared by 15.6 percent year-on-year to 4.7 trillion kilowatt-hours. (PHOTO / IC)

The ongoing controls on the use of electricity in some regions of China are set to ease off, as government efforts to contain the coal price surge and improve coal supplies for power plants are expected to improve the electricity supply and demand situation, experts said on Monday.

Electricity supply problems have also resulted in blackouts for some household users in Northeast China

They also said a better balance will be ultimately achieved among electricity supply, carbon dioxide emission controls and economic growth targets, as China moves toward a greener electricity mix to fulfill its commitment to carbon dioxide emissions goals.

Measures to reduce electricity use in factories are currently being enforced in 10 provincial-level regions, including the economic powerhouses of Jiangsu, Guangdong and Zhejiang provinces.

Electricity supply problems have also resulted in blackouts for some household users in Northeast China.

"There is a nationwide electricity shortage to some extent, and the main cause is greater-than-expected electricity demand growth driven up by earlier economic recovery and higher prices for energy-intensive products," said Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University.

"As more measures are expected from the authorities to secure power coal supplies and frustrate the coal price surge, the situation will be reversed."

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According to the latest China Electricity Council data, electricity consumption during the first seven months of this year soared by 15.6 percent year-on-year to 4.7 trillion kilowatt-hours.

The National Energy Administration has held conferences on ensuring sufficient supplies of coal and gas in the coming winter and spring, especially for power generation and household heating.

Lin said that the surging prices of energy-intensive products, such as steel and nonferrous metals, have contributed to the rapid growth in electricity demand.

Zeng Ming, head of the Internet of Energy Research Center at North China Electricity Power University, said the central authorities have already started taking measures to secure coal supplies and stabilize coal prices.

As clean and new energy is expected to play a bigger and long-term role in China's energy mix than coal, coal-fired power will then be used to balance the grid rather than to meet baseload need, Zeng said.

Ouyang Shijia in Beijing and Wu Yong in Shenyang contributed to this story.