China’s Record Hot Spell Piling Pressure on Power Supply

China is bracing for more extreme heat over summer after a record spell of high temperatures, with expectations that an earlier-than-usual surge in electricity demand will put more pressure on the grid.

(Bloomberg) — China is bracing for more extreme heat over summer after a record spell of high temperatures, with expectations that an earlier-than-usual surge in electricity demand will put more pressure on the grid.

The country has experienced the largest number of days when the average temperature is 35C (95F) or above this year through June since records began in 1961, the National Climate Center said in a report. More heat waves are forecast in July and August, when temperatures across much of the nation will be as much as 2C higher than usual, it said.

The sweltering conditions have seen power consumption jump and peak demand will now happen earlier than anticipated, Yu Bing, deputy director of the National Energy Administration, said in a report in Xinhua. That will require further efforts on planning and to secure fuel supplies, he said. 

Some specific issues with supply to certain regions and during particular time slots still need to be resolved, Yu said. While the power network is broadly in balance across northern China, conditions are tight in southern, central and eastern regions, Xinhua reported, citing the China Electric Power Enterprise Federation.

The extreme heat, which is being exacerbated by the El Nino weather pattern, and warnings from authorities suggest there could be more localized blackouts over summer. State Grid Corp. of China has said it will prioritize preventing power cuts over its longer-term goal of decarbonizing the electricity mix, but warned there might be “some small gaps” in certain regions.

Power consumption rose 5.2% in the first five months of 2023 from the same period a year earlier, NEA data show. Demand this year could advance by 100 million kilowatts if there’s a long period of extreme heat, compared to a gain of 80 million kilowatts under more typical conditions, according to the China Electricity Council.

Authorities are being urged by the NEA to closely monitor water flows in centers for hydropower generation including Yunnan and Guizhou provinces, and to focus on improving the demand-side response, Xinhua said. Utilities have been asked to ensure they have stable supplies of coal and gas, and to agree on new medium-and-long term contracts if required. 

The high temperatures are also a threat for agricultural production. Drought and heat waves will likely be more severe in northern China, Jia Xiaolong, deputy director at the climate center, said at a press briefing on Tuesday.

The weather conditions have already affected the growth of corn and soybeans in northeast China, Zhang Hengde, deputy director at the National Meteorological Center, said at the same briefing. 

The Week’s Diary

Tuesday, July 4

  • Nothing major scheduled

Wednesday, July 5

  • CCTD’s weekly online briefing on Chinese coal, 3pm
  • Caixin China PMI Composite, 9:45am
  • Caixin China PMI Services, 9:45am

Thursday, July 6

  • Nothing major scheduled

Friday, July 7

  • China foreign reserves for June, incl. gold
  • China weekly iron ore port stockpiles
  • Shanghai exchange weekly commodities inventory, ~3:30pm

On the Wire

China imposed restrictions on exporting two metals that are crucial to parts of the semiconductor, telecommunications and electric-vehicle industries in an escalation of the country’s tit-for-tat trade war on technology with the US and Europe.

China is taking advantage of tumbling cobalt prices to build up its inventories of the metal used in electric-vehicle batteries and aerospace alloys.

China’s biggest state banks are offering local government financing vehicles loans with ultra-long maturities and temporary interest relief to prevent a credit crunch amid growing tension in the $9 trillion debt market, according to people familiar with the matter.

–With assistance from Hallie Gu.

(Updates with agricultural impact in 8th and 9th paragraphs)

More stories like this are available on

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.