Due to a lack of hydroelectric power, manufacturing companies in southern China have been forced to close

Dry weather in southern China has caused massive hydroelectric dams to fail, forcing towns to impose rolling blackouts and increasing the country’s reliance on coal, reports China Underground. 

A record-breaking drought and an 11-week heat wave are wreaking havoc on an area that relies on dams for more than three-quarters of its electrical supply.

Due to a lack of power, car assembly plants and electronics companies in southern China have shuttered. Volkswagen has had to close its facility in Chengdu, while Toyota has also temporarily halted operations at its assembly plant.

Electronics producer Foxconn and electric vehicle battery manufacturer CATL have both reduced output at nearby sites.

Rivers are so low that ships can no longer transport goods. The severe heat is disrupting electricity supply, endangering crops, and igniting wildfires.

Two months of drought

For more than two months, China has been affected by a heat wave that has stretched from Sichuan in the southwest to the country’s eastern coast.

Reduced hydroelectric dam energy has pushed China to burn more coal, releasing greenhouse gases that contribute to further global warming.

Many cities have been forced to implement rolling blackouts or reduce energy use. Several areas in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, were without power for more than ten hours a day.

The drought has caused dozens of rivers and reservoirs in the province to dry up, reducing Sichuan’s hydropower generation capacity by half and harming industrial activity. 

The Yangtze River has reached the lowest level for this time of year at Ezhou, a city in central China near Wuhan, since records began in 1865.

On 19 August, the Communist Party’s official newspaper, People’s Daily, stated that the Yangtze River has dropped to the same average level it regularly reaches at the conclusion of the winter dry season.