Sydney — When the temperature drops to freezing in a country of almost 1.4-billion people, the power needed to keep the population warm soars. That’s one of the main reasons China’s northern cities have spent much of the past month choking on smoggy, toxic air. Particulate concentrations in areas north of Shanghai that once qualified for state heating subsidies and retain a legacy of coal generation tend to be about 55% higher than in areas to the south, according to a 2013 study — enough to reduce lifespans by about five-and-a-half years. While China’s headlong construction of new renewable generation capacity may be taking the edge off this, its effect is felt least in the winter when reservoirs run low, skies darken, wind speeds fall, and smog settles in. While improvements to the country’s electricity grid may ameliorate the situation by allowing China’s northern cities to feed on more of the power generated from the country’s vast western hydro, wind and solar installations, th...

Subscribe now to unlock this article.

Support BusinessLIVE’s award-winning journalism for R129 per month (digital access only).

There’s never been a more important time to support independent journalism in SA. Our subscription packages now offer an ad-free experience for readers.

Cancel anytime.

Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.