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China's worst heat wave on record is crippling power supplies

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  1. skybrian
    From the article: [...] [...] [...] [...]

    From the article:

    The ongoing heat wave is the worst China has seen since records began more than 60 years ago. It has stretched over 70 days, sweeping through large swathes of the country and smashing temperature records at hundreds of weather stations.


    Amid scorching temperatures and a prolonged drought, reservoirs across Sichuan are drying up -- crippling the hydropower stations that account for nearly 80% of the province's power generation capacity.

    This month, Sichuan has seen its hydroelectricity capacity plunge by 50%, according to the state grid. Meanwhile, the unrelenting heat wave has pushed power demand to unprecedented highs, as residents and businesses blast their air conditioning to stay cool.


    To make matters worse, Sichuan is traditionally a huge exporter of power during the rainy season, sending about a third of its hydropower generation to provinces in eastern China, according to David Fishman, an analyst on Chinese energy at consultancy The Lantau Group.

    Despite its crippled power generation capacity, Sichuan must still honor its export contracts with other provinces, which Fishman said could "be really hard to get out of."

    "But even if they could, the generating facilities in Sichuan were built to export power to the east coast," he said. "They don't really have great connectivity to the rest of the Sichuan grid. They were never intended to serve Sichuan power consumption needs."


    Sichuan Guang'an Power Generation, the region's biggest coal-fired power plant, has been operating at full capacity for 21 consecutive days. Its electricity generation for August is expected to jump 313% from a year earlier, the company said.

    The province is also mining more coal. Sichuan Coal Industry Group, its largest coal miner, has more than doubled its thermal coal production since mid-August. And last week, Sichuan opened its first national coal reserve.

    Nationwide, the daily consumption of coal at power plants was up 15% in the first two weeks of August compared with the same period last year, according to the National Development and Reform Commission.


    Last year, after a coal shortage caused a series of power outages across China, the government began to signal a renewed focus on "energy security." By the last quarter of the year, new-approved coal capacity surged back, especially in state-owned enterprises, Greenpeace said in a report published last month.

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