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China to make bigger splash for hydropower

Editor: Zhang Dan 丨CCTV.com

06-30-2015 17:48 BJT

By Tom McGregor, freelancer based in Beijing

As China embarks on rapid urbanization along with the modernization of its rural regions, demand for energy grows more insatiable. Hence, the State Grid Corporation is transmitting ever more sources of electricity to a rising number of households, shops, offices and factories in the country.

Farmers also deserve better lives for their efforts to feed the nation. Rural residents need electricity for their homes and access to upgraded equipment to boost crop and livestock production.

Beijing has announced plans to build more power plants to meet rising demand. China must boost energy supply or risk succumbing to power shortages that could hamper domestic manufacturing activities and would make life unbearable for residents. The construction of more dams for hydropower plants can play a pivotal role.

Building boom for hydropower

The State Grid Co. has recently disclosed a blueprint to build three new hydropower plants in China’s central and eastern provinces of Anhui, Henan and Shandong, which would offer state-of-the-art electrical storage. The three projects are estimated to cost approximately RMB21.7 billion or $US3.55bln. and are set for completion in 2021, according to the China Topix Website.

The new hydropower plants are expected to generate a capacity of 3.6 million kilowatts while reducing carbon emissions. The State Grid currently has 19 hydropower plants with 12 still under construction.

When all plants become fully operational, it is estimated that they can produce 38 million kilowatts of clean fuel. Meanwhile, Moscow seeks greater cooperation with Beijing to build more dams on Russian rivers.

Three Gorges Dam goes north to Russia

Last month Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Moscow to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe where he was joined by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

They reached agreements on deals, which included China’s Three Gorges Dam Corp. signing a joint project with Russia-based RusHydro. The two hydropower giants plan to construct a dam on the Bureya River in Russia’s Far East region.

The project is expected to benefit both countries. The dam is designed for installed capacity of 320 megawatts, which would also help strengthen flood controls on the Russian side. The electricity the hydropower plant generates would get transmitted to Chinese households.

Russia is recognized for holding an abundance of oil & gas reserves, but Moscow hopes to diversify its economy by developing alternative energy sources to export abroad, particularly to China.

Hydropower works but needs more fixing

Yes, hydropower can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but some critics have raised concerns such as the costly and lengthy construction time of building huge dams. A substantial amount of hydropower wastage has also occurred.

In regards to building dams, environmentalists should understand that supporting clean energy means constructing more power plants on sites that may require some citizens to relocate elsewhere, such as what happened when building the Three Gorges Dam near Chongqing. Hydropower does not just magically appear from rivers; constructing dams are necessary for its existence.

The Economic Times pointed to another dilemma, since China does have enormous hydropower capacity but has failed to utilize it fully. More than 20 percent of the energy produced has gone unused and wasted due to low energy demand in the surrounding isolated rural regions.

Meanwhile, China has the ability to double current hydropower output to 2.2 trillion kWh with dams already in operation. This means that technical lapses continue to confront the sector, but Chinese officials are aware of the difficulties and in search of pragmatic solutions.

“We are currently looking for ways to solve problems on discarded water,” Shi Lishan, vice-head of renewables at China’s National Energy Administration, told the Economic Times.

Water that flows as energy

Water remains an essential source for life, since we need it for drinking and washing ourselves. Additionally, China is utilizing water for more energy usage by building dams for hydropower plants. It’s a clean energy, and if used to full capacity, can reduce pollution, potentially eliminating the use of 500 million tons of coal annually. Accordingly, Beijing needs the full support of its citizens to pursue hydropower ambitions nationwide.



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.



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