China’s Hot Summer Is Latest Test of Its Carbon-Neutrality Drive | #emailsecurity

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For the second time in six months, Chinese provinces are rationing electricity as the nation’s grids struggle to manage a surge in demand. This time, it’s partly because residents are blasting their air conditions to keep cool during an unusually warm summer. 

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Cities in Guangdong, a manufacturing hub in the south that’s home to 130 million people, have been limiting power use by factories since mid-May. Some plants have been forced to shut for several days a week. On Weibo, a Twitter-like social media platform, business-owners complained about losing money and asked for patience from customers whose deliveries had been delayed.

“Cutting the power three days a week is a death sentence to a factory,” said one user. “Now we have bought three giant generators and the whole industrial park smells of diesel.”

It’s the latest sign that Chinese authorities are having a hard time balancing the country’s climate goals and economic development targets. Along with the summer heat, an economic rebound led by exports and heavy industry is also causing a surge in power demand, just as new safety and environmental constraints lower production at coal mines that still help power large parts of the country. 

More unpredictable weather makes it difficult for utilities to gauge demand. In Guangdong, for example, summer arrived early with May’s average temperature registering 4 degrees Celsius higher than usual. Every 1°C increase above 30°C means an extra 3 gigawatts of peak electricity demand, according to China Southern Power Grid, the state-run utility that powers the province. 

The rainy season in southern China started 20 days later than usual, according to state news agency Xinhua, affecting the generation of hydropower. Neighboring Yunnan province, which relies on hydropower and supplies about 18% of all energy used in Guangdong, received 41% less rain than usual in the first quarter. Its reservoirs recorded the lowest water levels in years.

Warnings that power will have to be rationed have also been issued in other areas. Shandong, a coastal province in the north with more than 100 million residents, said it will be short of as much as 6 gigawatts of power at peak times this summer. Zhejiang, another factory heartland in the east, foresees a 2-gigawatt deficit. 

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