Sizzling showdown: Heatwaves turn up the heat on China’s power grids

Picture courtesy of China Daily

Southern and eastern China are bracing for ongoing heatwaves, putting pressure on power grids as air-conditioning demand skyrockets in major cities such as Shanghai.

Over the next three days, most of southern China is predicted to experience temperatures above 35 degrees Celsius, with some areas exceeding 40 degrees Celsius, according to national forecasters. The extremely hot weather has been affecting various parts of Asia in recent weeks, with Shanghai experiencing its hottest day in May in over a century.

Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, a climate scientist with the University of New South Wales, said…

“I’m not surprised that they are occurring, and not surprised that they are worse. But how they are occurring – it’s just been week-on-week-on-week of these records being shattered. It’s just relentless.”

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Demand for electricity in southern manufacturing hubs, including Guangdong, has surged in recent days. China Southern Power Grid, one of the country’s two grid operators, has seen peak power load exceed 200 million kilowatts, which is weeks earlier than normal and close to historical highs. In recent days, the power load in Hainan rose above 7 million kW for the first time and also hit record highs in Guangxi. Further rises are expected in other southern provinces, including Yunnan and Guizhou.

Nationwide temperatures this month are expected to be similar to those of last year, but in parts of the Yangtze River delta, including Shanghai, as well as parts of southwest China, such as Sichuan and Yunnan, temperatures will be 1 to 2 degrees Celsius higher, according to Gao Rong, deputy director of the National Climate Centre.

In the summer of 2022, extreme heat in China led authorities to ration power use. Hydropower output, crucial in large provinces such as Sichuan, was also affected due to prolonged drought-like conditions. Powerful convection weather has caused chaos in central China in recent weeks, with extended downpours and even hail damaging the country’s ongoing wheat harvest. In Henan province, known as China’s granary, moderate to heavy rains are expected to continue until at least June 4.

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Sara is a journalist and content writer who specializes in lifestyle, wellness, and travel topics. Sara's journey in journalism began as a copywriter, and over time, her portfolio expanded to include articles and features for some of the nation's top lifestyle publications. Outside the office, she enjoys practising yoga and exploring hidden locations in Bangkok.

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