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China’s factories are rationing electricity as heatwave drives demand to skyrocket – AFR

China’s Sichuan province lithium center will ration power supplies to its factories until Saturday, state media reported, as a heat wave sends electricity demands skyrocketing and reservoirs dry up.

Temperatures in the province, home to nearly 84 million people, have hovered above 40 to 42 degrees Celsius (104 to 108 degrees Fahrenheit) since last week, according to data from China’s Meteorological Administration, driving demand for air conditioning.

The region relies on dams to generate 80 percent of its electricity, but rivers in the area dried up this summer, Beijing’s water resources ministry said.

The southwest China province produces half of the country’s lithium used in electric vehicle batteries, and its hydroelectric projects power industrial centers along the country’s east coast.

However, the local government has decided to prioritize electricity supply to homes and has ordered industrial users in 19 out of 21 cities in the province to suspend production until Saturday, according to a notice issued on Sunday.

Several companies, including aluminum maker Henan Zhongfu Industrial and fertilizer maker Sichuan Meifeng Chemical Industry, said in stock market statements that they would halt production.

A plant owned by Taiwanese giant and Apple supplier Foxconn in the province has also halted production, Taipei Central News Agency reported.

Some companies are allowed to operate with limited capacity depending on production needs.

“Sources estimate that lithium production will be reduced by at least 1,200 tons over these five days due to the shutdowns,” Susan Zou, an analyst at Rystad Energy, told AFP, adding that lithium carbonate costs have skyrocketed since Monday.

A summer of extreme weather in China has seen several major cities record their hottest days ever.

China’s national observatory issued a red alert for high temperatures again on Monday, state media reported, as mercury rose above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in parts of the country.

Provinces like Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui, which rely on electricity from western China, have also imposed electricity restrictions on industrial users to ensure households have enough electricity, according to local media reports.

Scientists say extreme weather has become more common around the world due to climate change and is likely to intensify as global temperatures rise.

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