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Optimize energy structure to cope with extreme conditions

Updated: Oct 9, 2022 Print
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A woman walking on a hot city street in Shanghai tries to cool off with a mini-electric fan on Aug 11. TANG YANJUN/CHINA NEWS SERVICE

With high temperatures baking a large area of the country for over 50 days, several provinces such as Jiangsu, Anhui and Hebei have issued directives asking industrial enterprises to limit industrial electricity use to meet the needs of people's daily livelihoods.

Theoretically, that's an effective way of coping with the difficulties. In 2021, urban and rural residents together accounted for just 14.1 percent of society's electricity consumption, while industrial enterprises accounted for 67.5 percent. Regulating industrial enterprises and limiting their use of electricity will go a long way in meeting the needs of residents.

However, that's not an ideal solution, as it will curb economic activities to some extent. For example, Sichuan province is famous for rich hydropower resources, but the drought and high temperatures have dealt a heavy blow to local industrial production and even to this year's economic growth rate.

The high temperatures and drought will eventually pass, but the energy structure of the nation needs to be optimized so as to make it more robust in the face of challenges.

Currently, clean energy accounts for just 15 percent of global energy sources, which is not enough to cope with emergencies brought by extreme weather conditions. It often forces some nations to increase the use of fossil fuels. It is thus necessary to increase the percentage of clean energy before such extremes happen.

Among all clean energies, hydropower energy is not that stable as it relies too heavily on natural conditions, while nuclear energy arouses public security concerns; therefore wind and solar energy should become major players in future new energy systems, which means greater opportunities for electric automobiles and solar panels.

For China, ending its reliance on foreign oil is of key importance to its energy security, which in turn has different requirements in different sub-sectors of energy resources. For example, wind and solar power account for a high percentage of China's energy sources, which will stabilize the energy supply of the nation and replace the currently rather high fossil fuel use.

Coal remains an important energy source for China. To stabilize coal supply means to stabilize China's energy supply, while clean energy can gradually replace it in the coming years.

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