Pandemic Hits Workforce

How the Coronavirus outbreak is affecting China’s factory output

Competition between the United States and China is a long-explored topic; one that has escalated of late. Most of this boils down to subtopics like trade disagreements, workforce, manufacturing, and factory schematics. Until 2020, when a wild card thrown into the mix is taking the conversation beyond numbers and debate, and into a matter of life and death.

That wild card is the Coronavirus currently plaguing China, which has already taken over 2,100 lives and is now grievously affecting the country’s skilled workers. China’s industrial power demand in 2020 may decline by as much as 73 billion kilowatt hours (kWh), according to IHS Markit, as the outbreak of the coronavirus has curtailed factory output and prevented some workers from returning to their jobs.

Specifically, plant shutdowns as a result of nationwide quarantines, mainly in the Hubei province where the outbreak is most severe, are responsible for the drastic decline in power demand projected February 14 by IHS.

The last official report from the World Health Organization on February 13 had recorded nearly 47,000 infected. More recent estimates that include the past week have surpassed 75,000 infected, with most death tolls at least surpassing 2,100. The Washington Post’s ongoing count reported yesterday that there is a cumulative total of 74,546 infections and 2,118 deaths, most in central Hubei province. “The wild swings in numbers have raised suspicions over counting methods,” the Post reported.

The cut represents about 1.5% of industrial power consumption in China, according to IHS Markit via Reuters. For perspective, the report compared the loss as equal to the amount of power used in the whole of Chile. China being the world’s biggest electricity consumer, this comparison “illustrates the scope of the disruption caused by the outbreak.”

The reduction is the energy equivalent of about 30 million tonnes of thermal coal or about 9 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG), IHS said. The coal figure is more than China’s average monthly imports last year while the LNG figure is a little more than one month of imports, based on customs data.

Here is the WHO’s advisory to the public on what can be done to combat the risk of spreading this deadly contagion:

Elsewhere in the world, China is making a noted impact. Grumblings of the country’s increased presence in Africa have not ceased, as it continues to snatch up contracts for utilities and infrastructure projects. The latest of these comes from Uganda, near the source of the Nile River.


  1. COVID-19 Updates | Electrical Apparatus Magazine - March 12, 2020

    […] summation, the development has been exponential in the mere three weeks since Chinese factories near the source of the outbreak began stifling production as a precaution. There has been good and bad—while organizations abroad like CWIEME and Hannover Messe have pushed […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: