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China’s power crisis could reach Himalayan scale

时间:3周前   阅读:5   评论:2

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IF you’re looking for an iconic example of humanity’s ability to harness nature to produce clean energy on a massive scale, it’s hard to ignore the Three Gorges Dam.

Built through the 2000s just as China’s rise was at its most headlong, the world’s largest power station can generate 22.5 gigawatts, equivalent to 20 nuclear plants.

Two more of the world’s six biggest generators are upstream of its reservoir on the Yangtze River. Together, they pump out enough electricity to light up Poland.

That makes the problems being experienced in the backyard of the Three Gorges a warning to other economies in Asia that would seek to follow China’s path to development. Daily hydro generation has fallen 51% amid the worst drought on the Yangtze since the early 1960s, part of a worldwide drying that’s also closed the Rhine to barge traffic.

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That’s led to factory shutdowns as soaring demand from air conditioners collides with the constraints of a provincial grid that depends on dams for four-fifths of its electricity.The hydro potential of the Yangtze and its sister rivers originating in the Tibetan Plateau is crucial to the future of Asia. Nearly half of humanity lives in countries dependent on the vast rivers fed by the glaciers and snowpack of the plateau and Himalayan mountains. It’s hotly debated how that frozen store of water will fare as the climate warms – but this year’s events in Sichuan, in southwestern China, show that even a change in rainfall conditions downstream can affect output from major dams.

That’s important, because these rivers provide a large slice of the clean energy set to be installed over the coming decade.

While China’s current crop of dams are likely to be the last it builds for many years, India has about 29 gigawatts on the way, with another 13 gigawatts in neighbouring Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan. Nine more gigawatts will come from Vietnam and Laos, heavily dependent on the Tibetan Plateau-fed Mekong, according to the International Energy Agency.

Renewable energy – dependent as it is on the vagaries of planetary forces, rather than the certainties of fossil fuels’ industrialised commodity supply chain – always suffers from variability in output. Dams, however, are often seen as being exempt from the worst effects. With reservoirs acting as a vast battery of stored energy, they have a great deal of freedom to determine their output on any given day. So-called pumped hydro stations can even move water between two different elevations, providing a surge of electricity at the touch of a button.

The drought on the Yangtze is showing how the climate can scramble that logic. Solar’s major variability can be measured in hours, governed by the rise and fall of the sun, and relatively easily fixed by using batteries to shift the midday peak in output to the early evening peak in grid demand.

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网友评论

  • 2022-10-21 01:14:27

    "The EU has already introduced and launched a lot of measures to diversify our energy supply, for instance, to increase the import of liquified natural gas by 75 per cent since the outbreak of the war.666高级网文

  • 2022-11-12 01:21:32

    相比街头充满烟火气的梅林,古色古香的南头古城在夜色的笼罩下显得别有一番情调。8月13日晚9时许,深圳市公安局南山分局南头派出所南头城巡区警务室民警刘涛带领警力首先来到南头古城一家面馆巡查,并对店老板展开安全防范宣传:“近段时间人比较多,顾客进来后如果发生什么事情,记得及时跟我们说。疫情防护要做好,安全更要维护好,好不好?”店老板回复道:“好好好,没问题!”留言,证明我在看~