The Beijing Olympic Games have certainly made us all aware of China’s ability to tackle massive projects. When it comes to generating hydroelectricity, the country has proven itself equally successful with the construction of the much-contested Three Gorges Dam. But hydroelectric generation in China is not limited only to such huge scale projects. In recent years, the country has become one of the most successful adopters of small hydroelectric facilities (plants up to 25 MW) as a means of achieving carbon emission free rural development.
The total installed capacity of small hydroelectric plants in China is estimated at approximately 50,000 MW and growing at about 6,000 MW annually.
The key to efficient small hydro powered plants is standardisation. China has been standardising equipment designs for small hydro turbines and generators so that parts and components from one producer can be easily replaced by those made by another when necessary. The country currently boasts a strong national industry for small hydropower groups with over 120 manufacturers.
As reported in the Hindu Business Line, Prof. V.K. Damodaran managing director of the International Network on Small Hydro Power declares that small hydro power should be taken seriously, not only as an industry in itself but also for its role in developing the rural economy.
That is precisely what China is doing. Policies encourage small hydropower plants to sell their power in the area where they are located rather than to the national grid. As a result, a new local grid is created, attracting new small industry.
Chinese authorities are particularly encouraging small hydroelectric plants in those areas where the population is cutting firewood for cooking. Electrification enables them to adopt electric cooking rings. In this way, small hydro power also plays a role in halting deforestation and reducing the carbon emissions from burning wood.
'Take small hydropower sector seriously, says energy consultant' in the Hindu Business Line.Log in to post comments