China News: Xi crisis as drought triggers blackouts and energy rationing – economy battered | Science | New
A severe drought in China has caused parts of the Yangtze River in Sichuan to dry up. It comes after an extreme heatwave sent shockwaves across the country, prompting authorities to issue a ‘red alert’ warning for the 11th straight day on Monday. And, worryingly, the record drought has left water levels in Sichuan’s hydroelectric reservoirs dangerously low, plunging by half.
Meanwhile, demand for electricity in the region has soared by 25%.
While the province gets 80% of its energy from hydroelectricity, the provincial government said the “particularly serious” drop in water levels had led to a “serious situation”.
But not only does this affect Sichuan, but areas downstream of Chongqing city and Hubei province have been affected.
Restrictions on energy consumption have already been introduced from August 15 to 20, forcing thousands of factories to use limited power.
Households have also been given energy rationing instructions due to the shortage.
But curbs were extended for a further five days on Sunday, following scorching temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius.
The closures have caused major disruption to several industries, including the automotive sector.
Volkswagen, the German automaker, said it was experiencing mild disruptions at its plant in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan.
A Volkswagen spokesperson said: “We are monitoring the situation and communicating closely with our suppliers.”
Toyota and Tesla operations at some factories have been impacted over the past two weeks.
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In Shanghai, its iconic Bund skyline will be forced into darkness for two days in a bid to save energy amid the drought.
Chenyu Wu, analyst for China and North Asia at consultancy Control Risks, said: “Local efforts to save energy and increase production are likely to help alleviate the electricity shortage situation. in the coming weeks, especially if the long-awaited end of the scorching heat wave arrives.
The drought is believed to have affected at least 2.46 million people, including 780,000 people in need of direct government assistance, China’s Ministry of Emergency Management said.
It also caused problems for farmland in Sichuan, Hebei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Anhui and Chongqing regions.
In order to limit the impact of industrial closures on the country’s economy, its central bank announced on Monday that it was cutting its five-year interest rate by 0.15 percentage points, to 4.3%.
The country was already suffering from sluggish consumer spending due to Covid, with the heatwave only adding to the strain already placed on the country by the pandemic.