China’s Sichuan province on Sunday activated its highest emergency response to deal with “extreme” power supply shortages, closing factories and adding to the woes of manufacturers in the region.
High temperatures and low rainfall since July have led to gaps in power supply along with record demand for electricity, the South West Province said in a statement on Sunday. The local government has pledged to reduce the impact of energy shortages on economic growth, industrial production and households.
This is the first time Sichuan has launched a high-level emergency response since it introduced a power supply emergency plan in January. Among the measures taken in the plan are to start emergency generators and increase production of oil, gas and coal to meet the energy needs of households, important consumers and regions.
Sichuan is one of the most populous provinces in China and a key manufacturing center for electronic vehicle cells and solar panels. Companies including Toyota Motor and Contemporary Amperex Technology shut down plants in the region for several days.
The power shortage adds another challenge to companies struggling to keep the country at bay with Covid-19, including sudden lockdowns, constant testing and movement restrictions. This weighed on consumer sentiment and wreaked havoc on the manufacturing sector.
Jinko Solar Co., one of the world’s largest solar module manufacturers, said two plants in Sichuan were affected by the power shortage and were operating in protective mode. The company said it was unclear when units would be able to return to full capacity and that the limit would have some impact on revenue.
Local media reported that some office buildings and shopping malls have made adjustments to air conditioning, lighting or furnaces to save energy despite the heat. Shanghai turned off landscape lighting near the Huangpu River for Monday and Tuesday to save energy use.
In Sichuan’s Energy Contingency Plan, Level 1 emergency response allows for assistance from the provincial council to manage the crisis, and increases the frequency of communication between energy suppliers and the provincial government.
Peak electricity demand in Sichuan has risen to 65 million kilowatts, a 25 percent increase over last year, local officials and power grid officials said in a press release on Saturday.