A persistent heatwave in China has pushed power consumption to record levels in some areas and even forced rolling blackouts, with new indications demand will continue to rise.
Bloomberg quoted He Yang, director of China’s National Energy Administration’s power division, who said power consumption would increase into August during the traditional peak period, adding power demand is already breaking records this month.
“After entering July, as the economy grows and temperatures rise amid the global wave of persistently hot weather, our electricity consumption and power load are also growing rapidly,” Yang said. He noted, “the supply and demand of electricity in the country is still stable and orderly.”
In terms of grid stability, Yang said power generators would be able to ensure sufficient supplies. However, there are instances where forced consumption cuts are needed to rebalance the grid and thwart widespread blackouts.
“There have been occasions when power users have been asked to cut consumption in Zhejiang and other parts of China during periods of peak load,” he said.
Even though China leads the world in terms of installed green power sources, such as wind and solar, along with energy storage batteries, it still consumes nearly five times as much coal as India and almost six times as much as the US. The latest figures from China show that 65% of the electricity generated is derived from coal.
To meet soaring power demand, China’s coal fleet will have to expand. Yan Qin, a China analyst at Refinitiv, recently said China’s coal fleet could increase by 150 gigawatts in the next five years.
Chinese provinces are trying to prevent an electricity shortfall experienced last fall when factories and high-rise buildings had to shutter operations.
President Xi Jinping recently said coal would be burned for power generation until reliable replacements were readily available.
China’s ability to ensure energy security and a stable grid amid soaring demand appears to be through the use and expansion of coal-fired plants.
Yang also expects another round of surging power demand in the winter. He said Chinese energy companies are already making preparations by purchasing coal and natural gas to expand stockpiles.