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Chinese cities break heat records, stressing electricity grid

Since March, China has experienced higher-than-normal temperatures.

Reuters
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People wearing sun-protective clothing walk on a street amid a yellow alert for heatwave in Beijing, China June 5. Photo: Reuters
People wearing sun-protective clothing walk on a street amid a yellow alert for heatwave in Beijing, China June 5. Photo: Reuters

Several cities in northern China broke heat records for June this week, with soaring temperatures straining the country's electricity supplies and leading authorities to hold mock emergency drills.

Since March, China has experienced higher-than-normal temperatures. Weather experts have predicted extreme conditions throughout the country that could eclipse last year's sizzling spell, which lasted for more than two months.

On Thursday, Shijiazhuang in Hebei province became the first provincial capital city to hit 40 degrees Celsius (104°F) this year, according to state media. Zhangjiakou and Chengde, cities in the same province, also broke temperature records for June, according to CCTV.

By 10am (0200 GMT) on Friday, the Central Meteorological Administration issued a slew of heightened heat warnings. Capital Beijing is expected to broil in 37-39°C temperatures until Saturday, and the Tianjin Meteorological Observatory raised its warning level to red with temperatures expected to hit 40°C.

The persistent heat has already put the country's power grid operators on high alert, with some cities in the south warning firms and people to curb usage.

China's National Energy Administration on Thursday staged a power emergency drill on the state grid's East China network, simulating a power surge and outage to prepare early warning and power management mechanisms.

The East China regional grid, which serves economically key cities such as Shanghai and Hangzhou, expects a peak load of more than 397 gigawatts (GW) this summer. That is greater than the total electricity generation capacity of Japan, according to 2021 data from the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Also on Thursday, Shanghai's state-owned energy and water companies released measures to meet the summer season's power and water demands, aiming to prevent potential shortages that hit the country last year.

Last month, Shanghai registered its hottest May day in over a century.

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