Ember, a global environmental and clean energy organization, has recently revealed alarming statistics about the state of hydropower production in Asia. The region is experiencing its most significant decline in decades, primarily due to China and India significantly reducing their hydropower production. This shift has created a pressing challenge for energy regulators, as they grapple with skyrocketing electricity demand and unpredictable weather conditions, forcing a greater reliance on fossil fuels.
China and India, two of Asia’s largest economies and responsible for about three-quarters of the continent’s electricity output, are now turning away from renewable energy sources in favor of fossil fuels to compensate for the dwindling hydroelectric power supply.
Numerous Asian countries have been grappling with energy shortages in recent years, exacerbated by extreme weather conditions such as scorching temperatures and reduced rainfall across northern China, Vietnam, and eastern and northern India. Ember’s data reveals that the use of polluting fuels like coal has surged to meet the surging electricity demand and address supply shortfalls, underscoring the immense challenge in achieving greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.
Over the course of seven months leading up to July, hydropower output in Asia plummeted by 17.9%, while fossil fuel power surged by 4.5%. The Director of Energy and Gas Markets at Rystad Energy commented on this trend, stating, “Despite strong growth in solar and wind energy production in Asia, thermal power plants reliant on fossil fuels have also seen increased output this year, largely due to the sharp decline in hydropower production.”
A deeper analysis of data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) highlights the severity of the issue. Hydropower production in China saw a staggering decline of 15.9% in the eight months leading up to August, marking the fastest rate of decline since 1989. Meanwhile, India’s government analysis data reveals that hydropower production dropped by 6.2% during the same period, the most substantial drop since 2016. Additionally, the share of electricity generated from hydropower in India fell to a mere 9.2%, the lowest figure in at least 19 years.
These developments underscore the urgent need for both China and India to diversify their energy portfolios and prioritize renewable energy sources once again. The current trend of escalating fossil fuel use not only hampers environmental efforts but also raises concerns about energy security in the face of increasingly volatile weather patterns. To mitigate these challenges, it is imperative that these Asian giants revisit their energy strategies and invest in more sustainable and climate-friendly solutions to meet their growing energy demands.