For the second time in six months, Chinese provinces are rationing electricity as the nation’s grids struggle to manage a surge in demand. This time, it’s partly because residents are blasting their air conditioners to keep cool during an unusually warm summer.
Cities in Guangdong, a manufacturing hub in the south that’s home to 130 million people, have been limiting power use by factories since mid-May. Some plants have been forced to shut for several days a week. On Weibo, a Twitter-like social media platform, business-owners complained about losing money and asked for patience from customers whose deliveries had been delayed.
“Cutting the power three days a week is a death sentence to a factory,” said one user. “Now we have bought three giant generators and the whole industrial park smells of diesel.”
It’s the latest sign that Chinese authorities are having a hard time balancing the country’s climate goals and economic development targets. Along with the summer heat, an economic rebound led by exports and heavy industry is also causing a surge in power demand, just as new safety and environmental constraints lower production at coal mines that still help power large parts of the country.