By: Vijay Jayaraj
Coal shortages have struck two of the world’s biggest energy consumers, threatening power outages for 2.7 billion people and raising prices for the fossil fuel to unprecedented levels. In China, factories are shut, homes remain in darkness, and chaos ensues on roads where traffic lights fail. Coal plants that supply neighboring India with 70% of its electricity are on the brink of running out of fuel, triggering an emergency call to the government for assistance.
China’s Guangdong Province has been experiencing regular blackouts, directly affecting a manufacturing hub that contributes around 10% of China’s annual economic output. Some industries, despite a demand for their products, have lost as much as 50% of production in recent months.
“Power restrictions are likely to continue until March next year, and residents should prepare for water cuts to become normal,” said Guangdong media. Provincial energy regulators issued an advisory with the following guidance: “office workers to use stairs for the first three floors, shopping malls to keep advertising signs on fewer hours, and for homes to use natural light as much as possible and to keep air conditioners above 26 degrees Celsius.”
In all, 17 provinces — including the industrial centers of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shaanxi — rationed power this year. Last week, Northern Chinese provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang suffered blackouts, with cuts to traffic lights wreaking havoc on roads during rush hour in at least one major city. read more