Drought and Power Shortages Bring Chinese Factories to a Standstill


China has rationed electricity to factories and imposed rolling blackouts in at least 20 provinces after a record heatwave depleted reservoirs across the Sichuan province, cutting the nation’s hydropower supplies.

All factories in Sichuan province, a key manufacturing region, were forced to shut down for six days to conserve energy.  The factory closures are expected to have a knock-on effect for global supply chains as the region is home to major electronics, semiconductor, aluminum, fertilizer, and solar panel industries and is a key lithium mining hub, a component of electric car batteries.

Power shortages in nearby regions have led to rolling blackouts, prompting officials in Ningbo, Wenzhou, Yiwu, and the Jiangsu providence to limit production capacity to three days each week, while factories in Shanghai and Chongqing have completely suspended production in order to prioritize power for residents amid the soaring temperatures.

After more than two months of baking temperatures that have reduced water levels by half, threatening livestock and disrupting crop growth, the central province of Hubei unveiled plans to launch a cloud seeding program to induce rainfall.  According to Reuters, cloud seeding is achieved by sending airplanes to fire silver iodide into the clouds.  Other regions along the Yangtze River have also launched cloud seeding programs, but thin cloud cover in some parched areas have delayed operations.  Beijing has also ordered coal production to expand significantly with winter fast approaching.