China is poised for more dam building as it tries to meet ambitious targets to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has ratified five projects in the first quarter this year, including the Longkaikou and Ludila dams on the Jinsha river.
Despite approval of projects amounting to over 12.6 million kilowatts, capacity will still be far below the 12th Five Year Plan’s target of 32 million kilowatts. These projects are expected to cost around 60 billion yuan (9.5 billion USD).
Hydropower development is in an “awkward” situation, where environmental issues are a significant source of public concern and represented by recent directives (e.g. here) from the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) to ensure a standard of environmental protection, yet the National Energy Administration pursues the projects actively.
Despite pressure to speed up the process, “if hydropower project approval is not strict, the projects may create ecological and pollution problems, or even issues with migrants.” For this reason, “orderly development [of hydropower] cannot be neglected.”
Summary by Angela Merriam