China’s Sichuan province activated its highest emergency response on Sunday to deal with “extremely exceptional” power shortages, adding to the woes of the region’s manufacturers as they shutter factories.
Extremely high temperatures and low rainfall since July, along with record electricity demand, have caused power outages, the southwestern province said in a statement on Sunday. The local government has pledged to minimize the impact of power shortages on economic growth, industrial production and households.
It is the first time Sichuan has initiated a top-level emergency response since it unveiled an energy supply emergency plan in January. Measures in the plan include starting up emergency generators to first meet electricity demand from households, major consumers and regions, and maximizing oil, gas and coal production.
Sichuan is one of China’s most populous provinces and a key manufacturing center for electronic vehicle cells and solar panels. Companies including Toyota Motor and Contemporary Amperex Technology have already closed plants in the region for several days.
The power shortage adds another challenge to companies already struggling with the country’s adherence to Covid Zero, which includes sudden shutdowns, constant testing and movement restrictions. This weighed on consumer sentiment and caused chaos in the manufacturing sector.
Jinko Solar Co., one of the world’s largest solar module makers, said two of its plants in Sichuan were affected by the power shortage and were operating at protective levels. The company said it was unclear when the units could resume full capacity and the limit would have some impact on its revenue.
Some office buildings and shopping malls have also adjusted air conditioning, lighting or escalators to save energy despite the heat, according to local media reports. Shanghai suspended landscape lighting for Monday and Tuesday near the Huangpu River, including the Bund waterfront area, to save energy consumption.
According to the Sichuan Energy Emergency Action Plan, a level 1 emergency response allows for assistance from the state council to deal with the crisis and increases the frequency of communication between energy suppliers and the provincial government.
Current peak load demand for electricity in Sichuan has jumped to 65 million kilowatts, an increase of 25 percent from the previous year, local government and power grid officials said at a briefing on Saturday.