Southern Europe is bracing for more record-breaking temperatures, as the Cerberus heatwave — aptly named after the mythological beast guarding the gates of hell — continues to grip countries like Spain, Italy and Greece. As the thermometer is expected to reach 45 degrees Celsius in Spain and at least 10 cities in Italy have been put on high alert, the issue of when is it “too hot to work” has reemerged.
Last summer, as the UK faced its first-ever extreme heat warning, British workers’ union GMB called for a “too hot to work” law to be passed as soon as possible to protect labourers from being forced to work under scorching, dangerously unhealthy temperatures. Despite this call to action by GMB, there is still no regulation in the UK defining how hot a workplace has to be before a worker can justifiably ask to be sent home, though there is a recommended minimum.
Health and safety guidelines require the workplace to be “comfortable,” but only excessive cold is defined, stating temperatures shouldn’t fall below 16 degrees Celsius in an office environment, or 13 degrees if the work is physically demanding. There’s no mention of an upper limit, which was probably not considered necessary a few decades ago. Surprisingly, countries that are much more used to high temperatures are not much better prepared, despite the risk that the extreme heat poses. At the European Union level, there is no common rule defining the maximum temperature permitted in the workplace, although some countries have implemented their own.
As reported by CNBC, the CEOs of Micron and Cadence and senior executives at Applied Materials and AMD were on stage at a recent major semiconductor event in India alongside Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The event with some of the world’s biggest chip firms highlights India’s ambitions to become a major hub for semiconductors alongside the likes of the U.S., Taiwan and South Korea. India is looking to lure in foreign firms to invest with AMD saying it plans to invest around $400 million over the next five years in India.
India’s chip strategy consists of two major parts. The first is luring in foreign firms to set up operations and invest in the country while the second is on forming alliances with other key semiconductor nations like the U.S. New Delhi has introduced supportive policies for the semiconductor sector. In December, the government greenlit a $10 billion incentive plan for the semiconductor industry, which is open to foreign firms too.
The high-profile event with all the CEOs masks some of India’s challenges in the semiconductor industry. One area that India could be attractive in is the packaging and testing of semiconductors, but no major firm in this segment of the market has set up shop in India yet. In the area of foundries, companies that actually manufacture semiconductors, there haven’t been good technology partners for those trying to set up shop in India.
For Mexican industrial park owners, business is booming amid a wave of U.S businesses setting up over the border. So-called nearshoring has pulled over $9 billion into Mexico since last October by manufacturers like Unilever, Barbie maker Mattel and Tesla, lured by its proximity to the giant U.S market, cheap labor and geopolitical stability. These park owners, however, have a serious cost issue on their hands: energy.
Industrial parks are under pressure to spend millions of dollars to build federal power transmission lines and substations amid government underinvestment, growing energy demand, and an aging infrastructure that is at capacity. The lure of new clients for parks is strong, but it is still a bitter pill: with regulation restricting private ownership, park owners essentially donate the infrastructure to the state.
American Industries is currently building a $12 million 12-kilometer (7.5-mile) line. Such investments mean they have as much as tripled energy costs for clients in recent years, complicated by lengthy permit processes.
The issue underscores the holes in President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s attempt to concentrate power in the state energy utility company, CFE, which critics say is unfit to support Mexico’s major growth opportunity. Though private sector assistance may help bolster Mexico’s energy security in the short term, much more is needed accommodate the wave of new demand.