Hot, drought-hit Taiwan struck by power cuts for second time in a week

FILE PHOTO: People pay for their purchases using the light from their phone while experiencing a blackout due to an outage at a power plant, at a shop in Taipei, Taiwan, May 13, 2021. REUTER/Ann Wang

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan launched island-wide power cuts on Monday evening following a spike in demand amid a heatwave and drought and failure at a power plant, the second such outage in the global tech hub in a week.

Phased blackouts hit Taiwan, which major chip makers such as TSMC call home, on Thursday following an outage at a plant in the southern city of Kaohsiung, which worried investors amid a global chip shortage.

It was not immediately clear whether Monday's power outage hit TSMC or other semiconductor companies, which have factories across the island. TSMC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Taipower said 660,000 homes were hit by a first round of power cuts and a decision would be made later in the day on whether to extend the outage.

Taipower blamed a rise in demand after a technical failure led to the suspension of some generators in the southern Hsinta Power Plant, the same facility that caused the problem last week.

The state-own company said that the worst drought to hit the island in more than half a century meant electricity generated by hydropower plants was insufficient to meet the unexpected demand on Monday evening, a record high for May.

By 8:40 p.m., only 40% of the supply had been restored in the coal- and gas-fired power plant, Taipower said.

Taiwan's cabinet offered an apology and urged citizens to stay safe.

The Taipei city government said parts of the city had already reported power cuts.

Taiwan is currently experiencing an unusually hot May with temperatures in parts of the island peaking at around 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).

(Reporting by Yimou Lee and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Gareth Jones, Louise Heavens and Nick Macfie)

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