BEIJING, Jan 14 (Reuters) - China aims to increase its annual railway capacity for coal haulage by around a third by 2020 as part of a new plan aimed at streamlining the way its vast but remote reserves are delivered to consumers, the country’s top planning body said on Tuesday.
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said China delivered 2.26 billion tonnes of coal through its railway network in 2012, up 55 percent since 2005, and it plans to raise it to 3 billion tonnes a year by the end of the decade.
In a bid to ease pollution, China has been trying to shift much of its coal capacity further west and consolidate output in a number of large-scale “coal production bases”, many of which are in distant regions like Inner Mongolia, Ningxia and Xinjiang.
But transportation bottlenecks have caused huge problems, with the country’s limited road, rail and port infrastructure unable to handle the vast numbers of cargoes required to feed thousands of power stations, especially in peak periods.
The NDRC said on its website (www.ndrc.gov.cn) that railway capacity was still far from adequate, forcing sellers to rely on an already congested road network to deliver coal. It said China’s port throughput capacity was also insufficient.
It said that as well as boosting delivery capacity, China would also create a unified national emergency stockpile and build 11 large-scale storage and distribution bases to help improve the nationwide flow of coal.
It said a number of “channels” will also be set up connecting big producing regions like Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia to major energy consumers on the eastern coast.
China has vowed to reduce the share of coal in its overall energy mix to less than 65 percent by 2017, down two percentage points from 2012, but with energy demand still rising quickly, absolute coal production is still forecast to rise by about 2-3 percent per year. (Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)