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Power demand hits record high amid heat wave

S. Korea's average maximum power demand stood at 82,007 megawatts last month (Yonhap)
S. Korea's average maximum power demand stood at 82,007 megawatts last month (Yonhap)
Sizzling temperatures that hit the country last month led to record-breaking electricity demand, data showed Monday.

According to Korea Power Exchange, the country’s average maximum power demand stood at 82,007 megawatts last month, up 1.0 percent on-year -- the highest since records began in June 2005.

The sudden surge of power consumption resulted from many households and buildings turning up the air conditioning due to the scorching heat wave and tropical nights across the nation throughout July.

A tropical night is when the temperature does not fall below 25 degrees Celsius between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m.

As power consumption surged, South Korea’s reserve electricity ratio fell below the 10 percent level three times last month.

The reserve ratio dropped from 9.5 percent on July 5 to 8.7 percent on July 6 and down to 7.2 percent on July 7.

The reserve ratio for July 7 was the lowest since August 13, 2019, when the reserve ratio dropped to 6.7 percent.

The reserve ratio, which should be maintained above 10 percent to supply stable power and prepare for emergencies, is likely to drop further next week when power consumption jumps due to air conditioning use, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

If the ratio continues to dip below 10 percent, the government could impose emergency measures for the first time since September 2013 to control power use.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy forecasts that electricity demand will rise to the 91.7-95.7 gigawatt range in the second week of August, when the summer heat usually reaches its peak, up from 91.1 gigawatts measured last year.

The ministry expects power reserves to plunge to their lowest levels in recent years -- to around 5.2 gigawatts this summer, half of that of last year.

By Hong Yoo (yoohong@heraldcorp.com)
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