In January 2009, the power generation output in China reached 247.64 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh), a drop of 12.3% year over year. The output from hydropower reached 28.94 billion kWh, an increase of 27.90% year over year, while the output from thermal power reached 210.95 billion kWh, a drop of 16.7% year over year.
As power consumption is more statistically relevant than power generation output, consumption is widely used to gauge industrial and economic development. Power consumption data in January 2009 showed that the Chinese economy has remained in a downturn since October 2008.
According to the statistics of the CEC, the monthly power consumption from October, November and December was 269.85 billion kWh, 256.2 billion KWh and 273.71 billion KWh, a respective drop of 3.7%, 8.6% and 8.93% year over year.
The Chinese Spring Festival in January this year (instead of February as in the previous year) also contributed to the drop in power consumption, as power load in the festival is often low. However, even accounting for this, the power consumption in January still showed a downturn.
Heavy industry accounts for more than 60% of power consumption, while household consumption accounts for about 10%. Despite the increase in household consumption during the festival, the consumption of heavy industry was lower. Energy-intensive industries such as metallurgy, construction-materials manufacturing and chemical processing showed a continuous decline.
Worth mentioning is that power consumption in the coastal province of Guangdong dropped 21% year over year, and 24% year over year for the Zhejiang province, indicating that falling power consumption is closely related to the worsening condition of China's export sector.