The drought has Europe firmly in its grip - with far-reaching consequences: Nuclear and hydroelectric power plants are out of action, and after gas, electricity could also become scarce. According to experts, it is possible that industrial pantographs will have to be disconnected from the grid. This is already the case in China.
According to a report in the "Handelsblatt", the drought is increasingly endangering Europe's power supply because nuclear and hydroelectric power plants are failing at the same time and there is a risk that coal-fired power plants can no longer be supplied. "It's possible that in Germany we'll have an electricity shortage before a gas shortage," Alexander Weiss, head of McKinsey's global energy consultancy, told the newspaper. "All conceivable factors come together that together represent an immense burden for the power generation system."
"Load shedding" is not improbable, says Weiss. What is meant is a situation in which, for example, larger industrial pantographs have to be disconnected from the grid in order to prevent power failures. The shortages are already leading to more electricity being produced from gas. In July, German gas-fired power plants generated 13 percent more electricity than in July of the previous year. For August it is 24 percent more so far.
The Chinese province of Sichuan in the southwest of the country is already rationing electricity for factories due to a long-lasting drought. In view of the high temperatures in the province with 84 million people, the power consumption for air conditioning is currently very high, while at the same time the hydroelectric power plants supply little electricity. Sichuan normally obtains 80 percent of its electricity from hydroelectric power, which also supplies industrial areas on the east coast.
In Sichuan, temperatures have been above 40 degrees in the past few days, according to data from the Chinese weather service. Many rivers in the province have dried up, according to Beijing's water resources ministry.
The regional government ordered on Sunday that industrial plants in 19 out of 21 cities in Sichuan must suspend production until Saturday to save electricity. Several companies wrote in announcements to the stock exchange that they had stopped production - such as the aluminum manufacturer Henan Zhongfu or the fertilizer manufacturer Sichuan Meifeng. A factory belonging to the Taiwanese Apple supplier Foxconn also stopped the tapes. However, some companies are allowed to continue with reduced output.
Half of the Chinese lithium, which is mainly used in batteries for electric cars, is also mined in Sichuan. Here, too, electricity is saved in the five working days from Monday to Friday - analyst Susan Zhou from Rystad Energy said it is estimated that production will be 1,200 tons less as a result.