UPDATE 2-China Nov power output growth slowest in 10 months

Fri Dec 9, 2011 4:04am EST

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By Jim Bai and Chen Aizhu

BEIJING, Dec 9 (Reuters) - China's power generation increased at the slowest pace in 10 months in November, government data showed on Friday, as demand momentum waned along with slowing industrial output in the world's second-largest economy.

Slowing demand, along with recent power price hikes and coal price caps, suggest a developing power shortage in the winter season could be less severe than anticipated.

Electricity output increased 8.5 percent from a year earlier to 371.3 billion kilowatt-hours last month, or 12.38 billion kilowatt hours per day, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

Daily generation picked up from October, when demand was at a seasonal trough between the summer and winter peaks.

For the first 11 months, power output gained 12 percent from a year earlier to 4.19 trillion kilowatt-hours, higher than the total for 2010.

By sources, output from coal-fired power stations increased 9 percent on year, the first single-digit growth since February, while generation from hydropower plants staged its first increase in five months, gaining 6.3 percent from a year ago.

Last month's output from nuclear power stations declined 6.7 percent on year, the data showed.

POWER WOES SEEN LESS THAN FEARED

China's industrial output growth hit its slowest pace in more than two years in November and inflation tumbled as economic conditions deteriorated.

Power consumption by industries accounts for more than 80 percent of the total in China.

Slowing economic activities suggested that power demand could lose steam and thus help ease expected power shortages.

China has forecast some 30 gigawatts of power shortfalls, or about 3 percent of national generating capacity, in the winter-spring season, though a combination of estimates by individual regions was higher.

The country's water storage was less than normal in some regions while many coal-fuelled power plants were struggling to maintain normal operations after their profit margin was repeatedly eroded by high coal costs.

Coal-fired power plants produce around 80 percent of China's electricity output.

China put a cap on coal prices and raised power tariffs by over 5 percent from Dec. 1 to help power generating firms, in a pre-emptive move to reduce blackouts in winter.

Beijing has urged relevant government departments and energy firms to ensure stable coal, power, fuel and natural gas supplies in winter while curbing demand from energy-intensive sectors or from industries with surplus production capacity.

(Editing by Ken Wills and Sugita Katyal)

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