After two months when demand was distorted by the unusual timing of public holidays in a leap year, the figures for March show a clearer picture of trends in Chinese electricity consumption. The official China Electricity Council (CEC) said that demand grew by 7.0% on year in March to reach 416 TWh.
By contrast, January demand fell 6.5% on year, because of the early occurrence of the lunar new year holiday. It then surged 22.9% on year in February, when consumption jumped both because of the timing of the holiday and the extra leap year day.
The March month figure means that Chinese electricity demand in the first quarter of 2012 was 6.8% higher on year at 1,165.5 TWh. Within the total, the CEC said that industrial demand increased by about 4.4% on year to 857.5 TWh, commercial and other tertiary sector demand rose 13.0% to 139.8 TWh, and residential demand surged 15.5% on year to 168.3 TWh.
While industrial demand still represents almost three quarters of total demand, and heavy industry at 693.4 TWh alone accounted for almost 60% of the first-quarter total, industrial activity clearly appears to be decelerating and driving down overall electricity demand.
This is even more apparent in the March month figures, with heavy industrial electricity demand up only 1.6% on year at 253.2 TWh against the 19% and 16.5% on-year jumps in tertiary and residential consumption, respectively.