BEIJING -- Global shoppers face possible shortages of smartphones and other goods ahead of Christmas after power cuts to meet official energy use targets forced Chinese factories to shut down and left some households in the dark.
Power rationing and forced cuts to factory production in China are widening amid electricity supply issues and a push to enforce environmental regulations.
The curbs have expanded to more than 10 provinces, including economic powerhouses Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Guangdong, the 21st Century Business Herald reported Friday. Several companies have reported the impacts of power curbs in filings on mainland stock exchanges. A components supplier for Apple Inc.'s iPhones said it suspended production at a factory west of Shanghai under orders from local authorities.
Local governments are ordering the power cuts as they try to avoid missing targets for reducing energy and emissions intensity. The country’s top economic planner last month flagged nine provinces for increasing intensity over the first half of the year amid a strong economic rebound from the pandemic.
China's energy consumption and industrial emissions have surged as manufacturers rush to fill foreign demand at a time when competitors elsewhere still are hampered by anti-coronavirus controls.
Some provinces used up most of their quotas for energy consumption in the first half of the year and are cutting back to stay under their limits, according to Li Shuo, a climate policy expert at Greenpeace in Beijing.
Utility companies, meanwhile, are being squeezed by soaring coal and gas prices. That discourages them from increasing output because the government limits their ability to pass on costs to customers, said Li.
Prices have risen “past the range of what China’s electricity industry can bear,” Li said.
China has launched repeated campaigns to make its energy-hungry economy more efficient and clean up smog-choked cities.
City skies are visibly clearer, but the abrupt way the campaigns are carried out disrupts supplies of power, coal and gas, leaving families shivering in unheated homes and forcing factories to shut down.
Shopping malls in the northeastern city of Harbin have announced they will close stores earlier than usual to save power.
In Guangdong province in the south, the government told the public to set thermostats on air conditioners higher even as temperatures rose above 34 degrees C (93 degrees F).
State Grid Corp, the world's biggest power distributor, issued a pledge to ensure adequate supplies.
Meanwhile, state media say local governments have signed long-term coal contracts to ensure adequate suppliers.
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