In September, China's coal imports increased by 76% as power plants searched for fuel to alleviate a power shortage that has pushed domestic coal prices to record highs and disrupted corporate activity in the world's second-largest economy.
China, the world's top coal consumer, has been dealing with an escalating energy crisis caused by shortages and record-high fuel prices. The government has taken a number of initiatives to increase coal production and manage electricity demand at industrial plants, while power companies and other coal users have increased imports.
China's coal imports last month reached their highest level this year. Imports totalled 32.88 million tonnes in September, rising 76% from the previous year.
Local governments in the major coal-producing provinces of China, Shanxi and Inner Mongolia, have ordered 200 mines to increase output, but in Shanxi, 60 mines have been flooded due to constant rain.
The government stated that coal-fired power plants were allowed to pass on high generation costs to some end-users via market-driven electricity rates, reversing prior policy that allowed industry to lock in fixed-price power deals with suppliers, and adding to concerns about rising global inflationary pressures.
Despite the disruptions, China's overall export growth improved in September, as strong global demand countered some of the factory pressures caused by power shortages and other challenges.
The National Energy Administration said that electricity usage in September increased 6.8% YoY to 694.7 billion kilowatt hours (kwh), bringing total power use for the first nine months up 12.9% YoY.
China is not the only country experiencing power constraints, which have resulted in fuel shortages and blackouts in some areas. As world leaders gather in Glasgow next month for discussions on climate change, the crisis has underscored the difficulty of reducing the global economy's reliance on fossil fuels.