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David Fickling

Struggling to Stay Cool? So Is the Generator Powering Your Aircon

The worst problems lie in wait for emerging economies who spent billions over the past two decades building thermal power plants that can’t hold up to heatwaves.

Managing the evening peak.

Managing the evening peak.

Photographer: Apu Gomes/AFP/Getty Images

If you think you’ve got problems staying cool during the heatwaves that have gripped the northern hemisphere this summer, consider the fate of power generators.

Every time you switch on a fan or air conditioner, it adds a little bit of demand to the grid. When everyone does it at the same time, say when arriving home at the end of the day to a sweltering house, the effect can be enormous. Making matters worse, this shift often happens toward sunset, just as generation from solar panels is tapering off.