China to build large hydropower projects in rural areas

Updated: 2015-12-29 20:31

By Xu Wei(

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China will add 6 million kilowatts of installed capacity of hydropower in rural areas during the 13th Five Year Plan period (2016-2020), a government official said on Tuesday.

Xu Dezhi, deputy director of the Bureau of Rural Hydropower and Electrification Development under the Ministry of Water Resources, said in a news conference on Tuesday that the country will continue to prioritize the development of rural hydropower to aid its poverty relief efforts.

The country will also renovate or expand about 3000 rural hydropower projects, most of which were built before 2000, to ensure the safety of projects and further increase their installed power generation capacity, he said.

"The potential for hydropower development in rural areas is still huge, especially in the western provinces," he said.

The country has a combined installed capacity of 75 million kilowatts of rural hydropower by the end of 2014, which is only 58.6 percent of the nation’s total exploitation scale, he said.

However, he warns that the difficulty of hydropower exploitation also increases as more projects are developed in the western provincial areas.

He conceded that some projects have already affected river ecosystems, and there were also problems of overexploitation of water resources in some small rivers.

"Some projects have also resulted in a reduction of water volume, and thus affected the river ecosystem and the life of residents in the downstream area," he said.

Meanwhile, a lack of legislation on rural hydropower exploitation has also resulted in lack of proper management in the hydropower projects, he said.

Xu said a sound development plan is key to the protection of ecology during the rural hydropower exploitation.

The ecological protection measures must be implemented throughout planning construction and operation procedures, he said.