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Rain dampens China’s record heat wave, but new energy crisis looms | China

Rain dampens China’s record heat wave, but new energy crisis looms | China

Rain in central China this week is expected to relieve the country’s worst heatwave on record, but weather agencies are now warning of potential flooding, while analysts say the drought-exacerbated energy crisis that lasts for months is not over.

Nearly half of China was hit by the latest heatwave, the hottest since records began in 1961. Hundreds of temperature records were shattered and the heat exacerbated the effects of low rainfall , drying up rivers and reservoirs across the country.

Light to moderate showers have moved into central and southern China and are expected to intensify this week, according to the China Meteorological Agencies (CMA). He said moderate to heavy falls were expected from southern Gansu to Yunnan and across the drought-stricken Sichuan Basin, posing a risk of flash flooding. In Sichuan on Monday, more than 110,000 Sichuan people were relocated to safer areas.

After a period of significantly below average rainfall, some areas would now see up to twice as much rain as usual, the agency said. The CMA said the rains would help replenish reservoirs, but it still maintained drought warnings.

High temperatures are expected to ease in parts of southern China on Wednesday.

The heatwave has sparked a huge demand for electricity as hundreds of millions of people turn to air conditioning, leading to major power shortages. In affected cities and provinces, authorities have suspended or rationed power supplies to factories, shopping malls, skyscrapers and public transport.

Li Xi, a resident of central Chongqing, told the Guardian that residents of his high-rise building could use their air conditioning but areas outside the city and public spaces were rationed.

“Without air conditioning, it’s terrible at home…I stay home all day and go out in the evening after the sun goes down,” he said. “Chongqin City is taking measures to save electricity – the supermarket is only open from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m….Even in the subway, the elevator is turned off and we have to take the stairs.”

The heat, combined with power and water shortages, has had a debilitating impact on regional and agricultural areas, as well as vulnerable groups including the elderly and people working outdoors.

Andrew Polk, an analyst at Trivium China, said power demand had overwhelmed provincial power grids and warned it was “highly likely” the coming winter would see another regional power crisis.

Polk said the lack of water in the Yangtze River and dozens of tributaries during what is believed to be the rainy season had severely affected Sichuan’s power supply – which gets 80% of its electricity from the hydroelectricity – and downstream regions.

Cooler temperatures would reduce household electricity demand and facilitate commercial and industrial power rationing, but this was only temporary.

“Officials had to unclog reservoirs to avoid agricultural, river and ecological disasters,” he said.

“There is a good chance that Sichuan will run out of hydropower again by the end of the year – even if the heat wave ends immediately… Sichuan is now at such a water deficit that it would take a meteorological miracle to reach levels approaching normal levels for winter power generation.”

Analysts said centers such as Sichuan are likely to increase their reliance on fossil fuels in the near term until the development of renewable sources catches up. On Tuesday, the official People’s Daily newspaper warned of the need for regions to prepare for increased extreme weather events brought on by global warming, including drought and flooding.

Additional reporting by Xiaoqian Zhu

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