China struggles to ease power cuts amid heat wave

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China struggles to alleviate energy shortages and bring more water to the drought-stricken Yangtze River basin as it weathers a record heat wave, deploying relief funds, seeding clouds and developing new sources of supply.

For more than two months, cooking temperatures halted crop growth, threatened livestock and forced industries in the southwestern hydropower-dependent regions to close to ensure the supply of electricity to homes.

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China has repeatedly warned that it faces a proliferation of extreme weather events in the coming years as it tries to adapt to climate change and temperature increases that are likely to be more severe than elsewhere.

The current extreme heat likely stems from a “special case” of high pressure from a subtropical ridge in the Western Pacific that stretches across much of Asia, said Cai Wenju, a researcher at Australia’s National Institute for Scientific Research, CSIRO.

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On Wednesday, China’s southwest Sichuan province said it would ration energy supplies to homes, offices and shopping malls, after already ordering energy-intensive metals and fertilizer producers to cut back. the operations.

In what appears to be an official call to reduce electricity use, government offices have been asked to set air conditioners to no less than 26C and use more stairs instead of elevators, the Sichuan Daily, run by the provincial government, said. said.

Fountains, light shows and commercial activities after dark must be suspended, he added.

Power shortages also prompted several companies in the sprawling Chongqing region, bordering Sichuan, to say they would halt production.

Hydroelectric power accounts for about 80% of Sichuan’s power capacity, but diminishing water flows into the Yangtze and its tributaries has led to a struggle to meet growing demand for air conditioning as temperatures soar to 40C and beyond.

Drought across the Yangtze River basin is also “negatively affecting” drinking water for rural people and livestock, as well as crop growth, the water ministry said in a statement.

It urged drought-stricken regions to make plans to maintain water supplies with measures such as temporary water transfer, development of new sources and extension of pipe networks.

To increase downstream supply, China’s largest hydropower project, the Three Gorges dam, will increase water discharges by 500 million cubic meters in the next 10 days, it said Tuesday. Water flows this week were about half of those a year earlier.

Some animals from drought-stricken areas have been temporarily moved elsewhere, the Finance Ministry said this week, pledging disaster relief of 300 million yuan ($44.3 million).

On Wednesday, the central province of Hubei became the latest to reveal an effort to induce rainfall by sending planes to shoot the chemical silver iodide into the clouds.

Other regions of the Yangtze also launched “cloud seeding” programs, but with very thin cloud cover, operations in some dry areas remained on hold.

The heat wave in China lasted 64 days, making it the longest since full records began in 1961, state media said, citing data from the National Climate Center.

Up to 262 weather stations recorded temperatures of 40ºC and above, also the highest count. Eight registered 44ºC.

High temperatures will persist until Aug. 26 in the Sichuan basin and much of central China, the meteorological center predicts.

Source: CNN Brasil

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