China gung-ho over hydropower
January 24, 2011
By Canadian Consulting Engineer
China is planning to build so many new hydroelectric dams, the coming years will be a "golden decade" for the sector. As reported by Probe International, a recent report in China Securities Journal says Chinese officials plan to have 430...
China is planning to build so many new hydroelectric dams, the coming years will be a “golden decade” for the sector. As reported by Probe International, a recent report in China Securities Journal says Chinese officials plan to have 430 gigawatts (GW) of hydropower capacity by 2020 — surpassing an earlier target of 380 GW.
To meet those targets, construction of conventional hydropower plants has to increase by about a third to 83 GW. China will also raise its construction of pumped storage hydro-capacity by 60 per cent to 80 GW.
The projects would require “the equivalent of a new Three Gorges [dam] built every year, as officials look to meet top-down mandates on ‘green energy,'” wrote Brady Yauch of Probe International on January 19.
In July, the National Development and Reform Commission formally approved construction of the 2.4 GW Jin’anqiao hydropower project, though it has been opposed by environmentalists, as was the Three Gorges Dam years ago.
China is also exporting its hydropower engineering expertise to Africa, in particular to projects on the Nile. In April last year, a Chinese consortium won a $838-million contract for the Upper Atbara Project, an irrigation and hydropower complex in Eastern Sudan. Two months later China’s Gezhouba Corporation won a contract to build the Shereik Dam, a 420MW, $711-million project on the Nile. Then in November, Sinohydro, the world’s largest hydropower company, won a $705 million contract to build the Kajbar project, also on the Nile. The Kajbar dams is in Nubia, site of an ancient civilization.
There are concerns about how the massive project will affect the delicate ethnic and social situations of people in these areas, as well as concerns that they will result in the submerging of ancient archaeological sites.