China’s Sichuan province activated its highest emergency response on Sunday to deal with “extremely exceptional” power supply shortages, adding to the woes of manufacturers in the region as they shuttered factories.
Extreme high temperatures and low rainfall since July, along with record electricity demand, have caused gaps in power supply, the southwestern province said in a statement on Sunday. The local government pledged to minimize the impact of energy shortages on economic growth, industrial production and households.
This is the first time that Sichuan launched a high-level emergency response after introducing a power supply emergency plan in January. Measures in the plan include starting emergency generators to initially meet the energy demand of households, important users and regions, and maximizing oil, gas and coal production.
Sichuan is one of China’s most populous provinces and a major manufacturing center for electronic vehicle cells and solar panels. Companies including Toyota Motor and Contemporary Amperex Technology have already closed factories 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, ongoing testing and curbs on movement. This has weighed on consumer sentiment and wreaked havoc on 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 is unclear when the units may resume full capacity and the cap will have some impact on its earnings.
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 waterfront area of The Bund, to save energy use.
According to Sichuan’s emergency plan, a Level 1 emergency response allows it to seek help from the state council to manage the crisis and increases the frequency of communications between power suppliers and the provincial government.
Current peak load demand for electricity in Sichuan jumped to 65 million kilowatts, a 25 percent increase over last year, local authorities and power grid officials said at a press conference on Saturday.