Searing heat tests China’s ability to keep its factories running

A persistent heatwave is hobbling China’s ability to keep its factories operating as virus curbs disrupt the supply of coal and inventories of the fuel run low.

The government’s pledge to prevent a repeat of the power outages that crippled industry last year is being sorely tested by the summer heat. As the world’s biggest producer and consumer of coal, China is proving to be both a victim and a contributor to a climate emergency that has brought an extended bout of scorching weather across the globe, Bloomberg reports.

The nation’s electricity generation hit a record high last week as demand for air-conditioning quickly depletes its stockpiles of coal, which at some coastal power plants have fallen to an alarming level of just 10 days’ usage, according to a note from consultant Fenwei Energy Information Service Co.

After heavy rains brought a brief respite, another week or so of searing heat is forecast for the industrial heartlands of the southeast. That could include temperatures as high as 42 degrees Celsius (108 degrees Fahrenheit) in Zhejiang province, the manufacturing hub that borders Shanghai, which is already struggling to supply enough power to factories and households.

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