Heatwave-hit Chinese province resumes power to factories

Power shortages forced malls in parts of Sichuan and Chongqing to shorten opening hours, while landscape and subway lighting was switched off
AFP

The southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan downgraded emergency energy supply measures on Monday, restoring power to some factories after weeks of rolling blackouts due to a heatwave-induced shortage.

Parts of Sichuan province and neighbouring Chongqing saw rainfall and lower temperatures beginning Sunday, after weeks of record temperatures higher than 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) and a crippling drought that strained hydropower generators throughout the region.

“Reservoir water levels are gradually increasing and the power supply capacity has improved,” the Sichuan government announced Monday, adding that the power supply crisis had been “alleviated to a certain extent”.

The provincial emergency energy supply response was downgraded from the highest level starting Monday, the notice said, allowing power to be gradually restored to factories.

The region is home to major auto manufacturers, including Toyota in Sichuan and Honda in Chongqing, which said they resumed operations Monday. Apple iPhone manufacturer Foxconn also restarted work at its Sichuan plant, Nikkei reported.

State broadcaster CCTV reported Sunday that the “general industrial and commercial power consumption in Sichuan province has been fully restored”, adding that energy-intensive industries would resume production once hydropower reservoir levels rose further.

The lower temperatures have also lessened electricity demand from households, whose use of air conditioners had increased during the heatwave.

Authorities have forecast intense rains in the region for the next ten days, with the China Meteorological Association on Sunday issuing an orange alert for mountain torrents in Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces.

Southern China has recorded its longest continuous period of high temperatures since records began more than 60 years ago, forcing power cuts that have hit the agricultural sector particularly hard.

Power shortages also forced malls in parts of Sichuan and Chongqing to shorten their opening hours, while landscape and subway lighting was switched off and some households experienced rolling blackouts.

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