Business & Economy

Heat, drought cause industrial blackouts in China

Beijing/Shanghai, Aug 17 (EFE).- An unprecedented heat wave and drought in some areas of central China have caused the suspension of activity in numerous factories due to the increase in energy demand and production, with threats of power cuts in residential areas.

Low levels in rivers and swamps, on which local energy supplies depend, led the central province of Sichuan to order a temporary suspension of production at factories in 19 of its 21 cities.

In a statement published on its website, China’s government said the region faces “extreme” temperature levels not seen in six decades, while rainfall has fallen by 51 percent compared to the same dates in previous years and they are already at their lowest levels since records began.

The consequent drop in water levels in the main river basins in the area has implied a “sudden drop in hydroelectric production,” amounting to 80 percent of the power generation capacity of the province, home to 84 million people.

“The contradiction between energy supply and demand is very prominent,” authorities in Sichuan, China’s sixth largest province in terms of GDP, said Tuesday. The province’s silicon metal, electrolytic aluminum, chemicals and electronics make it an industrial hub.

Given the situation, supply to residents has been prioritized over factories, although in some cities such as Dazhou, power companies have already said that if the measures do not relieve the pressure on the network, cuts of about two and a half hours will be made in residential areas.

The official press said Sichuan companies are only suffering a “limited” impact from the measures.

Other provinces, such as Zhejiang and Anhui, have also announced measures to reduce energy consumption that have affected industries such as steel, non-ferrous metals or textiles.

In July, China’s power consumption rose 6.3 percent year-on-year, rising to 26.8 percent in residential areas, the highest growth rate in the historical series, which started in 2009.

Despite this, national authorities said the situation last year would not be repeated, when industrial production in some important manufacturing hubs in the country was interrupted by supply shortages, which even resulted in blackouts in residential areas in some northeastern areas.

“China will never allow incidents of the order of large-scale power outages to occur again,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said a few months ago, while Premier Li Keqiang said he promised “resolute efforts” to solve the problem.


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