Tuesday, September 22, 2009

China to double hydropower capacity in one decade

China has many times expressed desire to stop being used as the synonym for pollution due to heavy industrialization and the excessive use of fossil fuels, most notably coal. China is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels but is also investing huge resources into its renewable energy sector in order to become greener in years to come. One of the most dominant renewable energy sectors is definitely hydropower.

China's hydropower capacity is currently somewhere around 172,000 megawatts, which is the largest in the world, mostly due to different hydropower project like Three Gorges Dam. But china isn't planning to stop at this level and is in fact expected to nearly double its hydropower capacity to 300,000 megawatts by 2020. At least this is what state media said, as the nation powers ahead with the development of renewable energy sources.

Three Gorges Dam.

Water resources minister Chen Lei, who was quoted by the official Xinhua news agency as giving the target, also said hydropower would play a more important role in China's strategy for energy security in the future. Of course it still remains to be seen whether future Chinese hydropower project will be built with less problems than lest say China's infamous Three Gorges Dam that in the end turned out to be more negative than positive project despite huge potential.

One thing is sure though China definitely needs more developed renewable energy sector, and hydropower projects if properly done could be of great help to China to become greener and stop being labelled as the world's biggest poluter that contributes mostly to climate change problem.

If we take a look at the current China energetic data we can see that China is still heavily dependent on highly-polluting coal that satisfies 70 percent of its energy needs. China would definitely like to change this ratio and is therefore giving tremendous economic boost to some renewable energy sectors, most notably wind and hydropower energetic projects.

Of course China isn't only doing this to save its environment and global climate, there is also the question of energy demand that will become even bigger in years to come. Any energy source that has enough potential should be exploited as much as possible, especially if this energy source turns out to be ecologically friendly energy source.

China can definitely use its huge hydropower advantages but should also learn a lot from past mistakes to ensure prominent place for hydropower sector in future energy supply.

China's hydropower sector had its peak in 80s, and was even referred to as the "country's only renewable energy that could be tapped on a large scale" but some problems with the construction of Three Gorges Dam stopped China's hydropower miracle. It will be really interesting to see whether hydropower still has enough to jump back as the best alternative to fossil fuels in China, and whether Chinese has learned something from their past mistakes.

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