BEIJING, Apr. 21 -- China is expected to increase its power generating capacity by 80 gigawatts this year, while power demand will rise 5 percent if gross domestic product grows by the government's target of 8 percent, an official from the China Electricity Council said on Monday.
That capacity growth implies a similar rise to last year, when China's generation capacity grew 10.3 percent to 792.5 GW.
Xue Jing, director of CEC's Information and Statistics department, told the Coaltrans conference in Beijing that the increase in power output would raise demand for thermal coal by 100-150 million tons in 2009.
But she warned that coal supplies could run low if industrial demand picked up, because China's top coal-producing province, Shanxi, has started a program of closing small mines.
"During the peak demand period of June and July, when demand grows dramatically, tightness in supply is likely to happen, if the steel and base metals sectors have revived," said Xue.
Power output declined 1.3 percent in March from a year earlier, the fifth consecutive decline since October. Xue said she expected April to show a similar fall.
According to a Reuters calculation, another month of slowing power output would mean China's electricity generation would have to run more than 8 percent above 2008 levels to hit Xue's forecast of 5 percent for the year.
Wei Jianguo, general manager of the State Grid Energy Development Co, said 2009 power consumption was expected to rise 6 percent in 2009 to 3.65 trillion kWh. Coal-fired power output would rise 2.3 percent to 2.99 trillion kWh, 14 percentage points slower than last year's rate of growth, he said.