China Heat Hitting Hydro Hard

August 17, 2022

Bloomberg:

A heat wave in Sichuan is curbing hydropower generation in a growing threat to electricity supply and economic growth in one of China’s most-populous provinces. 

Some factories in the manufacturing hub in southwestern China are curbing production, and the extreme weather may also cut supplies of materials like polysilicon and lithium that are vital to the energy transition. 

High temperatures and drought are the worst on record, with the heat expected to continue for another week, according to the Sichuan Provincial Economic and Information Department. Water flows into hydropower reservoirs have dropped by 50% since the start of the month from average historical levels, just as the hot weather boosted power demand, it said on a government website.  

The drought is primarily a threat, at least at this stage, to power generation. That’s in contrast to Europe, where the shriveling Rhine River is risking the transit of fuel and other goods. Still, river and coastal shipping carries around 16% of goods in China, according to a transport ministry report in 2020, so there could be problems if water levels keep dropping.

Sichuan and surrounding areas have been grappling with heat and drought since July, with water levels for the Yangtze River — China’s largest waterway — falling to the lowest level for this time of year, according to a report from state-run Xinhua news agency. The province is particularly dependent on hydropower and also sells river-generated electricity to heavily populated eastern parts of China including Shanghai and Zhejiang. 

Sichuan accounts for nearly 15% of China’s polysilicon production, and the power outages will further tighten the market, Morgan Stanley analysts including Simon Lee said in a note. It will also reduce lithium supply and push up prices, Daiwa Capital Markets including Dennis Ip said in a note.

The province is also a major manufacturing hub, with Foxconn Technology Co. making Apple iPads there. A spokesman for the Taiwanese company said there is limited impact from the drought on the company’s operations in Sichuan.

Reuters:

Regions that rely on the Yangtze, China’s longest river, are having to deploy pumps and cloud-seeding rockets as a long drought depletes water levels and threatens crops, and a heatwave is set to last another two weeks.

The Yangtze’s middle and lower reaches have faced temperatures in excess of 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) over the past month, with experts blaming climate change-induced variations in the western Pacific subtropical high, a major determinant of summer weather throughout east Asia.

With the autumn harvest under threat, the agriculture ministry has deployed 25 teams to key regions to take action to protect crops, the Shanghai government’s Guangming Daily newspaper reported.

The heatwave is likely to last for another two weeks, making it the longest sustained period of extreme temperatures since records began in 1961, experts with China’s National Climate Center told the official Science and Technology Daily on Monday.

cgtn.com:

Yangtze, the longest river in China, is shrinking due to less rainfall and high temperatures. 

Rainfall in the Yangtze River drainage area fell about 30 percent in July and is 60 percent lower than normal in August, with the river’s tributaries “significantly lower” than historical levels, according to the Yangtze River Water Resources Commission.

At the same time, the Yangtze’s middle and lower reaches have faced temperatures in excess of 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) over the past month, with experts blaming climate change-induced variations in the western Pacific subtropical high, a major determinant of summer weather throughout east Asia.

The Poyang Lake in east China’s Jiangxi Province, which plays a major role in regulating Yangtze water flows in the summer, has shrunk to levels normally seen during the winter dry season after a 50 percent decline in rain in July.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: