China upgrades hydroelectric targets

BEIJING, CHINA - To achieve better results in energy conservation and emissions reduction, China is upgrading its goal of having installed hydropower capacity of 380 gigawatts GW by 2020 to having 430 GW by that time.

To achieve this goal, the capacity of hydropower projects planned to begin construction in the 12th Five-Year Plan 2011-15 will be expanded by 50 GW, according to a draft proposal recently submitted to the National Development and Reform Commission by China Electricity Council.

According to the draft proposal, the capacity of new conventional hydropower projects planned to begin construction in the 12th Five-Year Plan has been upgraded from 63 GW to 83 GW, and the capacity of new pump-storage hydropower projects planned to kick off construction has been upgraded from 50 GW to 80 GW.

At of the end of 2009, the installed capacity of conventional hydropower in China was 182.25 GW, including 55.12 GW of small hydropower. The installed capacity of pump-storage power stations was 14.54 GW.

The construction period for hydropower projects usually lasts five years or more. This means most of the projects planned for completion by 2020 will kick off in the next five years.

However, there are still many difficulties to achieve this goal. In the past five years, many large hydropower projects failed to kick off construction as scheduled for environmental reasons. At of the end of 2009, there were only 11 key hydropower stations that had received approval, accounting for only 27.1 of the total key hydropower projects listed in the 11th Five-Year Plan 2006-10 for renewable energy development. The different pricing system adopted for hydropower is another issue to be solved. The current price level of hydropower is much less than the average level of thermal power due to insufficient consideration in environment and resettlement.

The situation has obviously changed. The Chinese government has recently approved a large number of key hydropower projects, including major dams planned on the upstream portion of the Yangtze River and its tributaries. Hydropower development in China is speeding up.


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