BEIJING: China is expected to use 6 per cent to 7 per cent more electricity in 2021 than last year, the China Electricity Council (CEC) forecast on Tuesday (Feb 2), despite concerns over a new coronavirus outbreak disrupting industrial activity.
China, the world's second biggest economy, used 7.51 trillion kilowatt hours (kWh) of power last year, up 3.1 per cent from 2019.
The CEC also expects China to add 180 gigawatts (GW) of new power generation capacity in 2021 to push the country's total capacity to 2,370 GW, up 7.7 per cent from a year ago.
Total installed non-fossil fuel capacity is forecast to reach 1,120 GW by the end of 2021, with about 140 GW being added this year, accounting for 47.3 per cent of China's energy mix.
China is scrambling to build new renewable capacity in response to President Xi Jinping's pledge to add 1,200 GW of solar and wind capacity by 2030 and to bring China's carbon emissions to a peak within a decade.
In 2020, it doubled its new wind and solar power plants from a year earlier.
However, the CEC warned of a power crunch during the peak consumption season in some regions, including the western part of Inner Mongolia, Hunan, Hubei and Jiangxi, despite the construction of new power plants and cross-region electricity transmission lines.
Regions across China's industrial belts saw tight power supplies in late December last year due to surging demand from heating and manufacturing activity.
"China should continue expanding production capacity at advanced coal mines in order to increase domestic coal capacity reserves, so that it can cope with a demand rally amid economic recovery and weather changes," said the CEC in the forecast.
It also suggested China raise imports quotas for coal and relax customs restrictions on the fuel.
China is implementing an unofficial quota policy on coal imports, aiming to help domestic coal miners.
The CEC also urged the government to cap coal-fired power generation as soon as possible and transfer coal plants to a backup source to support renewable power.