Saving Energy: Chinese Province of Sichuan to Shut Factories Due to Extreme Heat

Photo Credit: Aly Song/Reuters

The Chinese province of Sichuan has ordered all factories in the province to halt operations and shut down for six days to alleviate the province’s power shortage, which has been ravaging the country for several weeks.

The advisory is expected to have a significant impact on production. Sichuan, China’s largest manufacturing region, is home to dozens of solar panel and semiconductor companies. In addition, the power grids in the area serve some of the world’s largest technology companies, including Intel and Foxconn, an Apple supplier.

Analysts also forecast that raw materials for car batteries will rise dramatically in the coming days as the province serves as the country’s lithium mining hub. Lithium is a critical component in the manufacture of electric vehicle batteries.

More problems battling the country

The current heat waves affecting much of China are the most severe the country has seen in over six decades. Temperatures in several cities exceeded 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). As a result, demand for air conditioning in homes and offices has skyrocketed. Unfortunately, with this increase comes increased strain on power grids to meet consumer demand.

The country is currently experiencing a drought, which exacerbates the effects of the heat wave. The phenomenon has reduced the water levels in China’s rivers, which has a detrimental impact on how much energy hydropower plants generate.

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The provincial government and state grid of Sichuan province issued an urgent notice advising 19 of its 21 cities to halt all factory production beginning Monday. The decision should ensure that the limited power produced by energy companies is sufficient to meet the demands of the province’s 84 million residents.

The period is the hottest on record for China

Since last month, heat and drought have affected many parts of the province. For example, the southwestern part of the province has been severely impacted, causing hydropower plants to produce lower power outputs. According to the government’s website, the region is experiencing the most extreme heat in 60 years, and average rainfall has decreased by 51% compared to previous years’ data.

Luzhou, a city in Sichuan, has announced that it will turn off its city street lights at night to conserve energy reserves and assist electricity grids in reviving their capacity.

“Continued high temperature has accelerated glacial melting in mountainous areas and caused natural disasters such as flash floods, mudslides, and landslides in many places,” stated Chen Chunyan, a chief expert at the Xinjiang Meteorological Observatory.

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There are other companies affected by the decision

Aside from energy, Sichuan is a major source of minerals used in the electronics and solar photovoltaic industries. Sichuan is home to factories for international semiconductor companies such as Intel, Onsemi, Foxconn, and Texas Instruments. CATL, a Tesla supplier, also has a factory in the province.

Several Chinese companies are concerned about the power outage ordered by Sichuan’s provincial government. The executives claimed that the cut would jeopardize the production of their products. Sichuan Haowu Electromechanical and Sichuan Lutianhua, for example, have both impressed the government with the expected losses they could face if the cuts and suspension continue for an extended period of time.

Other provinces are now advising their citizens to conserve energy as well. The Anhui, Zhejiang, and Jiangsu provinces have warned residents to brace themselves for potential disruptions and shortages if the dry spell continues throughout the summer. Many offices directed employees to raise the temperature of their air conditioning systems to save energy.

Decision might make things worse

“Affected by the continuous high temperature in many places, the price of fresh vegetables rose by 12.9% year-on-year, which was significantly higher than the same period in previous years,” stated the spokesperson of the National Bureau Statistic spokesperson, Fu Linghui.

“August and September are the key periods for the formation of autumn grain production. [We must] pay close attention to the impact of natural disaster, insects and disease on our country’s food production,” the spokesperson further stated.

Source: CNN


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Cindy Smith

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