Lights come back on in Lebanon as power plants re-start and Indian ministers claim they DO have enough coal as governments around the world battle energy problems
- Lebanon’s power supplies have now been brought back to normal, Ministry says
- Meanwhile, some Chinese provinces are rationing electricity amid crisis
- Europeans are paying exorbitant prices for liquefied gas and India is low on coal
- India insisted it has ample coal stocks to meet the demand of its power plants
Lebanon’s power supplies have now been brought back to normal following a blackout on Saturday when the country’s two biggest power stations shut down because of a fuel shortage, the country’s Energy Ministry said.
And as countries around the world continue to feel the brunt of the global energy crisis, India has insisted it has ample coal stocks to meet the demand of its power plants.
In China, some provinces are rationing electricity, while Europeans are paying exorbitant prices for liquefied gas as the global economy works to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The sudden energy crisis is putting a strain on supply chains and stirring geopolitical tensions.
And as global leaders prepare to meet for the landmark Cop26 in the hope of taking steps towards easing climate change, questions are now being raised about the plausibility of a global green energy revolution.
The crisis has been blamed on a perfect storm of factors, primarily the economic recovery from the pandemic coming after countries spent less on the extraction of fossil fuels over the last 18 months.
The closure in Lebanon this weekend had piled further hardship on those struggling with job losses, soaring prices and hunger wrought by the country’s worsening financial meltdown.
The ministry said it had received central bank approval for $100 million in credit to issue fuel import tenders for electricity generation, adding the country’s grid had resumed supplying the same amount of electricity as before the complete outage.
Lebanon’s power supplies have now been brought back to normal following a blackout on Saturday (pictured: June 23, a view of a mesh of raised electricity lines along a street in a suburb of Lebanon’s capital Beirut)
The sudden energy crisis is putting a strain on supply chains and stirring geopolitical tensions (pictured: A technician controls an electric switch board connecting homes to electricity generators in a suburb of Lebanon’s capital Beirut)
The closure in Lebanon this weekend had piled further hardship on those struggling with job losses, soaring prices and hunger wrought by the country’s worsening financial meltdown (pictrued: July 10, the Deir Ammar power station, Lebanon)
India has warned coal reserves are at record lows with coal-fired plants set to go dark in just three days (file photo)
On Saturday, Lebanon’s two largest power stations, Zahrani and Deir Ammar plants, shut down due to fuel shortages, bringing the Lebanese power network to a complete halt.
The Lebanese army agreed on Saturday evening to provide 6,000 kilolitres of gas oil distributed equally between the two power stations, the state electricity company said in a statement reported by the official National News Agency.
WHAT CAUSED GAS PRICES TO SOAR?
Before the pandemic in early 2020, the world’s gas reserves were plentiful and the price was low.
But as Covid-19 swept the globe, economies were battered and the production of both oil and has was reduced sharply.
In the meantime, an unusually cold winter in Europe meant that the reserves were used up, with production not matching demand.
China was the first to feel the energy crisis when global demand for its products shot upwards this year.
With coal stocks low, and an unofficial ban on Chinese ban on Australian lignite meaning they could not be easily refilled, power companies turned to liquefied natural gas (LNG).
As a result, prices soared.
In Asia, the sport price – measured in a million British thermal units – rose from less than $5 in September 2020 to over $56 this October.
In response, two-thirds of China has seen curbs on power consumption introduced, and some factories have shut down all-together.
China’s cuts to power usage will further disrupt international supply chains that were already stretched by the pandemic.
Lebanon has been paralysed by an economic crisis that deepened as supplies of imported fuel have dried up. The Lebanese currency has fallen by 90% since 2019.
Many Lebanese normally rely on private generators that run on diesel, although that is in short supply
India was said to have been close to running out of coal, but the ministry of coal said current fuel stock at coal-powered plants is about 7.2 million tons, sufficient for four days.
Government-owned mining giant Coal India also has a stock of more than 40 million tons which is being supplied to power stations.
‘Any fear of disruption in power supply is entirely misplaced,’ the ministry said in a statement.
The clarification came a day after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal warned of a looming power crisis in the megacity which is home to over 20 million people.
Several regions across India have been hit by supply shortages in recent months, with utility providers resorting to unscheduled power cuts.
India’s coal-fired power stations had an average of four days’ stock at the end of September, the lowest in years.
The shortage in India, the world’s second-largest coal-consuming country, follows widespread power outages in China that have shut factories and hit production and global supply chains.
Coal accounts for nearly 70 percent of India’s electricity generation and around three-quarters of the fossil fuel is mined domestically.
As Asia’s third-largest economy rebounds following a coronavirus wave, heavy monsoon rains have flooded coal mines and disrupted transport networks, leading to a sharp rise in prices for coal buyers, including power stations.
International coal prices have also soared.
The ministry however sounded upbeat Sunday, saying that despite heavy monsoons and a steep hike in power demand, ‘domestic supplies have supported power generation in a major way’.
An unusually cold winter in Europe that drained the continent’s energy reserves, a series of hurricanes that shutdown Gulf oil refineries, worsening relations between China and Australia and less wind over the North Sea have contributed to the global crisis.
‘It radiates from one energy market to another,’ Daniel Yergin, author of The New Map: Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations, told the Washington Post.
‘Governments are scrambling to get subsidies in place to avoid a tremendous political backlash,’ he said.
‘There’s a pervasive anxiety about what may or may not happen this winter, because of something we have no control over, which is the weather.’
People on their scooters and motorcycles are pictured in August as they wait in a queue for petrol amid the shortage as Lebanon agreed a stop-gap deal with Iraq to supply usable fuel this summer
Some Chinese provinces are rationing electricity due to the crisis. Pictured: Coal-Electricity Power Station in Shanghai on September 28, 2021
Putin has been accused of deliberately withholding gas supplies as leverage with the EU, who he wants to sign off on his new £8.1 billion Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Pictured: View of the Pipeline Inspection Gauge (PIG) receiving station, the Nord Stream 2
Ahead of the Cop26 summit in Glasgow at the end of the month, renewable energy advocates are arguing that the crisis shows the need to move away from fossil fuels.
Their critics have argued that it shows the opposite, saying that wind and solar are not meeting demand. Analysts are also concerned that the shortages and high prices will damage economic recovery.
But as countries struggle, Vladimir Putin is taking advantage of the crisis. Earlier this week, Russia’s strongman president was called upon by the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) to help ease the crisis by releasing more exports to Europe.
Putin has been accused of deliberately withholding gas supplies as leverage with the EU, who he wants to sign off on his new £8.1 billion Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, run by state energy Gazprom, that bypasses Ukraine.
Many are opposed to the pipeline, however. Russia is already the second-largest supplier of gas to the EU behind Norway, and Nord Stream 2 will increase Europe’s energy dependence on Russia and Moscow’s geopolitical clout.
On Wednesday, Putin suggested that Russia’s European customers could solve the crisis on the continent by importing more Russian gas.
Tensions are also rising within the EU, with leaders at odds over how to respond to the crisis.
Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orban, who is friendly with Putin, said on Wednesday that the EU was partly to blame for the price increases, saying that the bloc ‘must change its policy’.
On the same day, EU climate chief Frans Timmermans said those blaming the block’s Green Deal are only doing so for ‘ideological reasons,’ and that a transition away from fossil fuels will help put an end to the price crisis.
‘The wrong response to this would be to slow down the transition to renewable energy,’ Timmermans said. ‘The right response is to keep the momentum and perhaps even look for ways to increase the momentum.’
But energy analysts have suggested that Europe move too quickly from using fossil fuels for power before ensuring that there was sufficient renewable sources.
Now, with winter approaching, European fuel stocks are relatively low.
In Lebanon, meanwhile, there is no centrally-generated electricity after the country’s two biggest power stations shut down due to a fuel shortage, plunging six million people into darkness.
Production stopped at Zahrani power station today hours after the Deir Ammar plant shuttered yesterday when diesel supplies were reportedly exhausted.
A government official confirmed the country’s power network ‘completely stopped working at noon today’ and warned production was unlikely to restart ‘until next Monday, or for several days’.
The official said the state electricity company would try to use the army’s fuel oil reserve to operate the power plants temporarily, but that would not happen anytime soon.
Lebanon has been in chaos for years after the government resigned following the huge accidental gas explosion in Beirut in 2020.
The shortages are likely a result of the mismanagement after months of power wrangling between the country’s different factions.
But it comes against a backdrop of energy shortages world wide and fears of global fuel shortages after India warned its coal-fired plants could go dark in just three days and electricity blackouts hit China.
China is battling through its worst electricity crisis in a decade with the country so short on power cities have been hit by blackouts (pictured, Shenyang this week)
The country has been in the throes of an economic meltdown threatening its stability for the past 21 months. Pictured: Long queues for fuel in Beirut in June
Officials said Lebanon’s network ground to a halt today after energy production dropped below 200megawatts – enough to power only about 5,000 homes.
In July, Lebanon agreed a stop-gap deal with Iraq to supply fuel in a desperate bid to ease the crippling blackouts and shortages of essential supplies.
The shortage has caused huge hours-long lines for basic goods spilling out on to the streets in what have been branded ‘queues of humiliation’ by locals.
Many Lebanese normally rely on private generators run on diesel, although that is also in short supply.
The country has been paralysed by an economic crisis, which has deepened as supplies of imported fuel have dried up. The Lebanese currency has sunk by 90 per cent since 2019.
Lebanon defaulted on its foreign debt last year and struggled to pay suppliers. The Central Bank has been limiting credit to purchases of basic supplies, including fuel and medicine.
Residents have resorted to using expensive black market supplies as hundreds of local shops and businesses have folded.
At times, people have queued for miles to fill up their vehicles, often resulting in chaotic scenes filled with violence.
Blackouts have been a fixture in Lebanon since the end of its 15-year civil war in 1990, and the small country relies on imported fuel.
But the problem has intensified as the government grapples with unprecedented financial problems, and considers lifting fuel subsidies.
Lebanon has no centrally-generated electricity after the country’s biggest two power stations shut down due to a fuel shortage (file photo)
The shortage has caused huge hours-long lines for basic goods spilling out on to the streets in what have been branded ‘queues of humiliation’ by locals
Medics move beds as a patients wait on benches in a hallway of the Rafic Hariri University Hospital as pressure mounts on hospitals
India has warned coal reserves are at record lows with coal-fired plants set to go dark in just three days.
Government data shows over half of the country’s 135 coal-fired power plants have fuel stocks of less than three days, far short of federal guidelines which recommend supplies of at least two weeks.
The crisis has already seen lights go dark in some northern and eastern states with fears the capital New Delhi may be next – and officials have warned the shortages could last through the winter.
The chief minister of New Delhi Arvind Kejriwal urged the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allocate more coal and gas to power plants supplying the capital amid fears of electricity cuts for the capital’s 20 million people.
Coal scarcity has been caused by a surge in demand from industries that caught power producers off guard and sluggish imports due to record global prices.
India’s crisis has already seen lights go dark in some northern and eastern states with fears the capital New Delhi may be next – and officials have warned the shortages could last through the winter. Pictured: Coal is unloaded from a truck in Jharia (file photo)
Government data shows over half of the country’s 135 coal-fired power plants (pictured, a thermal power plant in Tamil Nadu) have fuel stocks of less than three days, far short of federal guidelines which recommend supplies of at least two weeks
Meanwhile China is battling through its worst electricity crisis in a decade with the country so short on power cities have been hit by blackouts and factories forced to close or else open for just a couple of hours per week.
The crisis, which began biting a fortnight ago, was caused by the cost of coal spiking as the economy reopened post-Covid, meaning power stations were operating at a loss and began to shut down.
Power outages have been reported in southern Guangdong province, but are most severe in the north eastern manufacturing hubs of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning.
Shopkeepers in China have reportedly been left to light their premises with candles amidst a recent three-day blackout that also brought down mobile networks.
An additional 16 provinces are thought to be rationing energy due to a shortage in supply, though have avoided full-scale blackouts.
In response, Shanxi – China’s biggest coal-producing region – has ordered its 98 coal mines to raise their annual output capacity by 55.3 million tonnes.
Shanxi will also allow some 51 coal mines that had hit their maximum annual production levels to keep producing.
In China’s No. 2 coal region, Inner Mongolia, 72 mines were told that they may operate at higher capacities immediately, provided they ensure safe production.
Fuel shortages are also affecting Europe amid a spike in demand for energy around the world as the global economy recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.
China is suffering an energy shortage sparked by the rising cost of coal as economies opened post-Covid, causing power stations to operate at a loss (file image)
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