(Bloomberg) -- As bad as the world’s energy crisis has been this year, it would been much worse without a wetter-than-usual start to China’s rainy season.
While heavy downpours in southern China have been a public safety crisis, closing schools and causing fatalities, they’ve also led to reduced air-conditioning demand and surging hydropower generation. Both have lessened the need for fossil fuels, allowing the world’s biggest coal and gas importer to cut purchases and leave more supply for other energy-starved nations.
Hydro is still China’s biggest carbon-free energy resource, accounting for about as much power as solar, wind and nuclear combined, although growth has flattened as topography limits expansion.
Hydropower generation through the end of May rose 18% from last year as rains filled reservoirs and two massive projects along tributaries of the Yangtze River ramped up output. The additional power would have consumed about 27 million tons of coal if it had come from thermal plants, based on data from the US Energy Information Administration.