China Energy Industry

Sichuan power crunch sparks calls for rethink of coal in China’s energy mix

The hydropower hub calls into question the race for renewable energy.

Nikkei Asia – Caixin analysis

In the pit of a continuous, record-slaying heatwave for more than 70 days, hard-hit Sichuan in China’s south-west is staggering from the loss of energy supply as the country’s hydropower hub and one of its most populous provinces.

Ordering factories to shutter to ease the strain on supply, the reliance of Sichuan on hydropower for around three-quarters of its electricity has drawn China’s renewable energy drive into sharp focus, reports Caixin – Nikkei Asia.

A hydropower-stuck province, as well as a hydro supply source to other provinces and cities, Sichuan “has become somewhat of a crucible to gauge the efficacy of the government’s drive to increase the share of renewable energy in the nation’s power generation mix, while maintaining stable supplies of electricity,” reports Caixin.

It notes that “the situation is so dire, some have called for shuttered power plants fueled by coal — which accounted for 56% of total power consumption in 2021 — to be turned back on, while approvals for new plants have surged this year, seemingly flying in the face of the government’s policy to cut coal use as part of its goal to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030.”

Likewise, the intermittent nature of solar and wind power, similarly impacted by weather conditions, has prompted analysts to point out the instability of clean power generation.

“Other provinces with a high proportion of renewable energy have also encountered supply issues during peak times. In solar-rich Gansu province, for example, local new energy generation fluctuates dramatically within just a single day,” Caixin reports.

The full article is available here at the publisher’s website



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