Skip to content

China Facing Winter Blackouts

December 23, 2020

By Paul Homewood


There’s an interesting story emerging from China:

From the Malaysian news outlet, FMT:



Speculation online is that the power shortages may be self-inflicted as a result of China’s embargo of Australian coal. (AP pic)


BEIJING: Tens of millions across China are facing power shortages in below-freezing winter temperatures, as three provinces impose curbs on electricity use due to surging demand and a squeezed coal supply.

Residents, factories and businesses in Hunan, Zhejiang and Jiangxi provinces have been ordered to ration electricity with some areas citing a shortfall in coal supplies, according to local media reports and government notices.

China’s rebound from the Covid-19 pandemic has been driven by energy intensive industries such as construction, heaping pressure on the power grid and coal supplies, said Lauri Myllyvirta, lead analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.

Earlier this month, Hunan authorities ordered all billboards and outdoor lighting on buildings to power off for long periods each day and a temperature cap on indoor heating at entertainment venues.

Hunan faces a shortfall of 3-4 million kilowatts of electricity this winter, local officials admitted last week, as demand soars due to unusually cold weather that will hit as low as -10°C.

Office workers in provincial capital Changsha complained on social media about being forced to climb dozens of flights of stairs and freezing indoor temperatures as a result of frequent power outages.

“My office heating has already been stopped, and there were blackouts on Dec 1, 3 and 5. Temperatures will drop to -8°C around New Year’s Day, will I freeze to death in Hunan?” one Weibo user wrote last week.

Meanwhile in Zhejiang province, factories in the manufacturing hub of Yiwu have been told to stop operations and streetlights have been turned off at night as part of an emissions-saving drive by the local government, according to media reports and photos circulated on Weibo.

Supply ‘largely stable’

China’s top economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), on Monday sought to reassure the public by saying the electricity supply is “largely stable”, and pledged to increase generation capacity and coal procurement.

The power crisis points to the challenges fast-growing China faces in balancing the needs of its vast population with strict carbon emissions targets promised by its leadership.

China — by far the world’s biggest consumer of coal — is pivoting to renewable energy sources to meet a pledge to peak carbon emissions by 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2060.

Speculation has swirled online that the power shortages may be self-inflicted as a result of China’s embargo of Australian coal, which has left ships stranded at ports, unable to offload large quantities of coal.

However, Australian coal only made up about 3% of last year’s total coal imports of 265 million tonnes, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

“The Aussie ban only had little impact on China’s thermal coal supply,” said Yan Qin, carbon analyst at financial data service Refinitiv.

“But China-Australia tensions have caused significant worries in the commodities markets, driving up domestic coal prices.”


I personally doubt if the Australian ban has made much difference. I suspect that China faces these sort of problems every winter.

But there is a back story to this. Not only is demand exacerbated in the extremely cold winter months in China, but hydro power is also at its lowest, peaking in summer and autumn.

This is the main reason why power shortages occur. Obviously the same applies to solar power, which is at its lowest in winter, although this is still so tiny as to be irrelevant.




Perverse though it may appear, generation is at its lowest in Q1, when demand is at a high. This is because thermal generation is pretty much running at full blast all year, except for Q2 which is probably due to planned maintenance. Meanwhile wind power varies little, and of course nuclear also runs at full capacity. (There is a strange spike in solar power in Q4, which I suspect represents a catching up on smaller generators, who only report annually).


Consequently, when hydro power drops off in Q1, so too does total generation, as there is no slack in the system.




So where does all of this leave us?

Demand for power is at a high in winter. Yet it is also a time when hydro and solar power drops off. Clearly wind power cannot be ramped up to meet this extra demand, and neither can nuclear power. With thermal generation already running flat out, there is no option but to impose these sort of curbs and power shortages.

Moreover if China wants to replace the use of coal for indoor heating with electricity for environmental reasons, this problem will become more acute.

The Chinese government has no choice but to carry on burning more and more coal, gas and oil, to meet this winter demand. Clearly renewable energy is not up to the job.

If it does not, the CCP will find itself with a revolution on its hands.

  1. Penda100 permalink
    December 23, 2020 6:09 pm

    What China really needs are heat pumps. And more wind turbines.And solar power. And all the alarmists.

    • December 23, 2020 9:40 pm

      Yes! We can balance our trade deficit with China at a stroke. They send us electronic goods and plastic tat, and instead of sending the containers back empty we can send them XR.

  2. Harry Passfield permalink
    December 23, 2020 7:06 pm

    It’s just occurred to me, if the Zuckerbergs, Dorseys and CNN/BBCs of this world can hide the corruption of the US Election and Biden’s corruption by not telling people, they will think it quite normal to NOT tell people that it’s getting colder (will they notice?) – they will continue to tell us that we are in a climate emergency.
    Sadly, I really do believe that the Twitter/Facebook generation, huddled in their warm clothes, will believe what their phones are telling them: it’s getting warmer!!

    • Duker permalink
      December 23, 2020 10:51 pm

      And the Judges even ones appointed by Trump? Its all baseless nonsense about corruption of US election. Recounts and scores of court cases provide all the proof you need.
      Trump said much the same about Clinton winning the popular vote in 2016 and he appointed a special commission to ‘expose the illegal votes’ and prove he won the popular vote too. That came to nothing as well

      • bobn permalink
        December 24, 2020 1:10 am

        Haha you’re drinking something strong.
        With 212Million registered voters and 66.2% voting,140.344 M voted. Now Trump got 74 M, that leaves only 66.344 M for Biden. These numbers don’t add up to what we are being told.
        If President Trump won 74 million votes, then that leaves only 67.5 million votes remaining for Biden. This means 13 million duplicate or made up ballots were created and counted for Biden!
        Its just Maths!!

      • bobn permalink
        December 24, 2020 1:18 am

        PS: No court has tried an election case. They’ve all refused to listen on procedural grounds. There have been NO COURT CASES – all refused. Not one single witness has been allowed to give evidence about election irregularities in a USA court. The judges are scared witless of the evidence proving the fraud and then the leftie violence that will ensue.
        However State legislatures are now starting to hear the evidence of the massive fraud. Will it be in time? They’re playing down the clock so Bribehim will be in and can then get the secret state stasi to shutdown investigations.

      • Duker permalink
        December 24, 2020 2:18 am

        Too silly for words. The registered voters is much higher at the registration deadline- varies for each state
        “The United States Elections Project found there were about 239.2 million eligible voters for the Nov. 3 election. Using that denominator and an approximately 66% turnout rate, it shows that about 160 million people voted for president.
        And a specific state Colorado?

        The fake news shows Colorado’s registered voters total as 2,645,000, and votes counted as 2,923,312.

        The Colorado Secretary of State website’s General Election 2020 unofficial results page ( showed that as of Nov. 6, 2020 there were a total of 3,780,115 active voters registered in Colorado. This data says that the turnout was 83.46% as there were 3,154,704 ballots cast.

        Voters could register to vote on Election Day in Colorado (here), which explains why current figures are slightly higher than those recorded on Nov. 1 (here) .”

        Same in Florida
        “The fake news says Florida had 9,435,000 registered voters but 11,040,806 votes counted.

        The Florida Department of State Division of Elections data shows that as of Oct. 13, 2020 (no late registration)there were a total of 14,441,869 registered voters in Florida (here).”

        How come the Republicans increased their members in the house if all these fake votes are out there.

        There were no cases ‘tried’ because they were asking for injunctions to …stop the count…to overturn the results…. to prevent certification and so on.
        A trial is when there is a crime committed ,of which there wasnt any, you know zero legal processes as well. Even Guiliaini claimed fraud outside the court but didnt claim that in front of a judge….he had zero evidence

        Trump lost ..big time …eat that

      • December 24, 2020 6:21 am

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        December 24, 2020 9:31 am

        I’m not a Trump supporter but there are significant anomalies in the US election. I find it highly implausible that once it was known what was needed to beat Trump, pretty much exactly that arrived via postal votes. And that lead to patterns never seen before in any US election both states, districts and the split of the vote by ethnicity. One or two new patterns is possible 8-10 very unlikely particularly when they appear post normal counting.

      • Gamecock permalink
        December 26, 2020 12:43 pm

        “Its all baseless nonsense about corruption of US election. Recounts and scores of court cases provide all the proof you need.”

        Recounting junk votes fixes what?

        Voting is sacred enough that we need investigations, Out-of-hand dismissal of claims is anti-democracy.

  3. cajwbroomhill permalink
    December 23, 2020 7:19 pm

    Maybe the Chinese have recognised AGW for the did science and scam it is.

    • jack broughton permalink
      December 23, 2020 7:59 pm

      Even the Chinese have seen the taxation and control possibilities inherent in “Climate Change”. People cannot complain about saving the planet, especially when they are force-fed pseudo-scientific fear-campaigns. Of course they will soon be saying that climate change is responsible for the extreme cold and that the models predict that such incidents will occur more frequently unless we do what they say.

      Big Brother is still in charge of the Minitrue and we will all be off to the joycamps for our crimethink.

  4. cajwbroomhill permalink
    December 23, 2020 7:28 pm

    DUD science, not “did” as my tablet changed it to in the comment from cajwbroomhill.

  5. bobn permalink
    December 23, 2020 7:28 pm

    Of course global weather is not accurately reported on the lamestream media; but its cold out there! I’d be interested in any leads to good daily global weather summary sites. Here’s one that shows the demand for heating will likely hit records in this cold season.

  6. December 23, 2020 7:38 pm

    This is a warning to all countries that are closing their thermal and nuclear generators and increasing their wind and solar. Is anybody in government listening?

    I think not, as this statement from the RT HON KWASI KWARTENG MP, Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth shows:

    “As you may know offshore wind, together with other renewable technologies are expected to play a key part in the decarbonisation of the UK energy sector and our plans to achieve net zero by 2050. The Prime Minister has underlined the role of offshore wind in the ten point plan for a green industrial revolution.

    40GW by 2030 is an ambitious and challenging target. We have circa 10GW of offshore wind capacity already with another 9.5GW being built, and a track record of delivering new renewable capacity through Contracts for Difference auctions. The last auction achieved over 5GW of offshore wind capacity and the upcoming auctions will look to build on that.

    Offshore wind support prices have fallen by two thirds between the 2015 and 2019 Contracts for Difference auctions from £114.39/MWh to £39.65/MWh resulting in better value for consumers.”

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      December 23, 2020 8:45 pm

      Phillip, under the new regime of the ‘great reset’ a law will be passed prohibiting people feeling cold. The law will state that they must always complain of the (man-made heat and be happy with their lot. God INGSOC bless Big Brother!

  7. John Palmer permalink
    December 23, 2020 8:12 pm

    What can I say but Ho, Ho, bl**dy Ho!
    Good on the Aussies too.
    The CCP has spent the last quarter century ‘acquiring’ all sorts of land-use, mineral and general resource rights across the under-developed globe by coercion, bribery, bullying or whatever.
    Like or loathe him (and I do neither, btw) Trump sees this issue very clearly for the threat it poses to our way of life.
    Couple this with the home-grown damage our ‘leaders’ are proposing in order to fight the Climate Catastrophe™ and we are in for a bit of bother, I believe….

  8. cajwbroomhill permalink
    December 23, 2020 11:12 pm

    D.J.T. seems to have done a lot of good. Pity about his deportment.

    Amazingly US fielded and chose senile, lefty, Green Biden and very scary running mate

  9. It doesn't add up... permalink
    December 23, 2020 11:35 pm

    Given that we can expect similar energy shortages in future, this should be seen as an experiment in the degree of repression necessary to control the public. China will of course have no qualms about that. Perhaps our own politicians are losing them too.

  10. Gamecock permalink
    December 26, 2020 12:26 pm

    That’s a big truck.

  11. December 26, 2020 1:22 pm

    Thank you Paul. I guess the bottom line is that there is no such thing as free and pure and clean and ecologically correct energy.
    A matter of pick your evil.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: