Apr 29, 2020 07:36 PM

China’s Electricity Use Estimated to Rise This Year Despite Pandemic

State Grid employees inspect equipment in Guang'an, Sichuan province, on Feb. 28.
State Grid employees inspect equipment in Guang'an, Sichuan province, on Feb. 28.

China’s electricity consumption is set to rise 2% to 3% this year, despite the Covid-19 epidemic leading to a sharp drop in electricity use during the first quarter, an industry association says.

Electricity consumption declined by 6.5% in the first three months of the year, equivalent to around 170 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) according to a Sunday report from the China Electricity Council. But as people return to work across the country, the association predicts power use will fall a narrower 1.5% to 2.5% year-on-year over the first half of 2020, and grow 2% to 3% for the full year.

The industry association called for China to postpone the planned cancellation of subsidies for onshore and offshore wind power by six months, to mid-2021 and mid-2022 respectively, as several state-owned power grid companies have lost money so far this year, including China’s top power utility State Grid Corp. of China.

Daily coal consumption by the six largest state-owned power generators, a figure often used to gauge economic activity, rose to 600,000 tons in late March, nearly equal to the same time last year, said Li Rong, analyst at Sinolink Securities.

Figures vary by region, however, with five developed eastern provincial regions including Shanghai reporting a 12.2% drop on average in the first quarter due to the shutdown of major manufacturing centers, while provinces in western China saw their power consumption continue to grow over the same period, the National Energy Administration’s East China Regulatory Commission said on Sunday.

Contact reporter Lu Yutong ( and editor Gavin Cross (

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