Could China’s power crisis help or harm its green energy push?

And there is little immediate relief in sight for China’s power woes, given the global surge in coal and natural gas prices and rising energy demand, not to mention potentially extreme weather.

China is the world’s biggest producer and consumer of coal, and right now its inventories are at record lows. To ensure adequate energy supplies as winter sets in, China has loosened restrictions on coal mining operators in its coal belt region stretching from Shaanxi to Inner Mongolia and prioritised shipments to regions in need.

As factories are idled to comply with power restrictions, analysts are trimming their estimates for China’s economic growth.

Goldman Sachs this week slashed its forecast for China’s full-year economic growth to 7.8 percent from its earlier call of 8.2 percent.

Others, like Nomura and Fitch, have also lowered forecasts, while some are still crunching numbers but expecting lower targets.

But some analysts see a potential silver lining in China’s current dependence on the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel.

Though coal currently accounts for nearly 57 percent of China’s energy mix – and its reliance on fossil fuel is likely to increase in the coming months, the problems being worked out in China’s power markets and energy supplies may end up accelerating the country’s pivot to greener more sustainable energy.“However, this episode also highlights the limitations of relying on imported coal. It is clear to the central government that the energy mix urgently needs to be diversified, and that the rollout of renewable energy must be as fast as possible,” he added.

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