Three Gorges Probe

Is hydropower exploitation of the Nu river in China ‘a must’?

(February 10, 2011) Meng Si of China Dialogue wrote in today’s Guardian that damming the Nu River in an attempt to reduce emissions will devastate the local environment. Below is an excerpt, and a link to the full story.

After seven years of silence, an official from China’s National Development and Reform Committee (NDRC) has made public his views on hydropower exploitation on the Nu river, China’s last great waterway without large-scale dams – announcing that development is “a must”.

Feeling the pressure from energy-efficiency and carbon emissions-reduction targets in China’s 12th Five Year Plan, due to be published next month, the government and state-owned electricity enterprises are ramping up their hydropower ambitions. Bets are rising on a “great leap” in hydropower exploitation.

On 28 January, Shi Lishan, deputy head of the New Energy and Renewal Energy Division of China’s national energy administration, set out his views on the Nu river, also known as Salween:

“My belief is that development is a must. Because the Nu’s upper and lower reaches are already built up, in the past some people have said that it is necessary to leave a stretch of free-flowing river. I believe that putting that theory into practice is not realistic. We expect that, on the basis of strong evidence, and after seeking the opinions of all parties, that we can press ahead with hydropower construction on the Nu river.”

A journalist who has long reported on hydropower issues in China is Liu Jianqiang, chinadialogue’s Beijing editor. He believes that hydropower development has caused so much controversy in the past in China because of the negative impact on ecology and displaced people, but now hydro interest groups are using the need for energy and emissions cuts as an excuse to promote a new round of frenzied hydropower development.

Read the full story here.

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