China: Extreme Weather Erases Carbon Cuts

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The heatwave and droughts that gripped many parts of China during July-August have dealt a serious blow to the country’s decarbonization efforts. They almost wiped out all the reductions in fossil fuel usage that the electricity sector had achieved in the first half of the year. The amount of electricity produced from “thermal” power plants, mainly those running on carbon-intensive combustible fuels such as coal and gas, spiked by 15% in August, according to latest data from the China Electricity Council (CEC). That's because the country was forced to ratchet up alternative means of power generation to make up for a 50% plunge in hydro availability in its top hydro-producing province Sichuan. The August surge in thermal generation followed a 5% rise in July, when heatwaves in China started growing more intense. This increased overall consumption and thereby fossil fuel usage: In terms of market share, thermal power generation advanced its ratio in China’s electricity supply mix to 72% during August, up from 70% a year ago.

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