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Heavy Rains Push China’s Hydropower Output Up

Heavy rains that followed a severe and extended drought two years ago have pushed Chinese hydropower output higher this year, with the strong performance of the segment seen extending over the summer as more rainfall is forecast.

Hydropower generation rose by 8.4% in the first four months of the year, Bloomberg reported, noting that the increase led to a surge in hydropower company stocks on the Chinese market. The biggest dam operator in the country, Yangtze Power Co. is on track to reach a market capitalization of $100 billion as a result.

China has the biggest hydropower capacity in the world, at a total of 425 GW, including the world’s biggest dam, the Three Gorges. Even in 2022, when the drought shrank hydropower output, the country sourced 15% of its electricity from that segment, according to BloombergNEF. This was more than the share of wind and solar in China’s energy mix, the report noted.

Earlier this year, Reuters noted in a report on the topic that due to the 2022 drought, China’s hydropower output had remained flat over the past three years thanks to the construction of new dams even as river flow diminished because of the lower rains. Between 2019 and 2023, installed hydropower capacity rose from 358 GW to 422 GW, which was an 18% increase. Output during the same period, however, was down by 1% because of insufficient water flows.

The return of the rain means that new capacity will finally get a chance to boost the country’s overall hydropower output and, as Bloomberg points out, bring it closer to its peak emissions target—well ahead of schedule, too.

Researchers from the Sinopec Economics and Development Research Institute said recently that hydropower will continue playing a major role in China’s transition as a source of reliable power supply.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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