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China Begins Rationing Energy Supplies Amid Severe Drought

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China imposed sweeping power cuts to households and factories in Sichuan province, including those belonging to major electronics companies where drought conditions have strained the region’s hydropower-based energy production capacity.

Water levels at hydropower reservoirs that supply the province of 94 million people have fallen by as much as 50% in August as China faces its largest heatwave since 1961, the AP reported, citing data from the Sichuan Provincial Department of Economics and Information Technology. After the provincial government ordered solar panel, cement, electronics and fertilizer factories to reduce power consumption, many shut down or reduced operations.

“Leave power for the people,” an Aug. 16 order from the provincial government said, according to the AP.

Factories belonging to Apple suppliers Foxconn and Intel will be affected by the power rationing, CNN reported. Prices for lithium, a critical component in electric car batteries, may also rise as cuts hit the lithium mines that are concentrated in Sichuan.

Solar equipment manufacturer Tongwei Solar Co. Ltd. said the “power cut and production shutdown have not had much impact,” AP reported, citing Chinese-language business news outlet East Money.

While the government intended factory power rations to increase energy availability for households amidst scorching heat and heightened demand for air conditioning, the power company in Dazhou, a city of 3.4 million, imposed three-hour rolling blackouts Wednesday, Chinese news outlets said, according to the AP. Authorities  instructed office buildings in the province’s capital city of Chengdu to shut off air conditioning.

Temperatures in Chengdu are forecasted to reach 106° Fahrenheit this week, according to Weather.com.

On Aug. 11, China’s State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters activated a level-IV emergency response in some provinces, including Sichuan.

Water levels in the Yangtze River, one of several bodies of water that supply China’s hydropower facilities, fell 60% in August compared to typical levels for that month, CGTN reported. China has deployed 900 missiles to “seed” clouds near Chongqing in hopes of inducing rain, CGTN reported.

Drought and extreme heat have devastated crops in central and northern China, with some areas declaring a failed summer growing season, the AP reported, citing the Chinese government.

Overall, drought has affected nearly 1.6 million hectares, or four million acres, of farmland, according to CGTN.

 In 2021, Guangdong province dealt with power shortages and manufacturing cuts after harsh weather conditions similarly drained the region’s hydropower reservoirs, according to the AP. Chinese officials slashed annual growth projections from 8.2% to 7.7%

Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng said electricity demand had reached record levels due to drought in some regions in a visit to the State Grid Corporation of China, Xinhua News reported.

Power cuts compound China’s ongoing economic woes. China’s economy grew by 0.4% year-over-year for the second quarter of 2022, as Chinese President Xi Jinping’s strict zero-COVID policy has led to food shortages and mass protests.

The Chinese Premier and State Council did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.

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