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David Fickling

The Summer of Our Discontent: Elements by David Fickling

As the climate warms, summer will strain power grids as much as winter.

Water levels on parts of the Yangtze River, China’s largest waterway and home to its top hydro power station, dropped to the lowest on record for this time of year.

Water levels on parts of the Yangtze River, China’s largest waterway and home to its top hydro power station, dropped to the lowest on record for this time of year.

Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Hi, I’m David Fickling and this is the latest edition of Elements, Bloomberg’s daily energy and commodities newsletter. It mixes exclusive commentary from Bloomberg Opinion’s stable of writers on natural resources with the best of Bloomberg News’s coverage. If you haven’t signed up yet, you can do that here.

For the power industry, the middle of winter is traditionally the cruelest time of year. Plummeting temperatures push up demand for heating from households, offices and industrial facilities — all at once. Gas storage facilities filled up during summer start to deplete their tanks around October and don’t start refilling again until April. Grid crises — like those that gripped Texas last year and northern China last fall — are associated with the times when cold weather puts maximum pressure on the system.