(November 21, 2012) As populist Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao prepares to retire, China’s new leadership is already looking at an aggressive plan to ramp up hydro capacity, as part of its ambitious 2020 energy goals. Under Wen, whose common touch earned him the nickname ‘Grandpa Wen’, a number of projects were shelved, including a series of dams on Yunnan’s untouched, UNESCO-protected Nu River – this is now slated for construction. The following Reuters report, by David Stanway, looks at the prospect of a renewed dam push in a country already struck by development fever. A tough sell, he notes, as an increasingly affluent middle-class – also the drivers of China’s consumption boom – push back against China’s “growth at all costs” economic model.
(October 18, 2010) A former forestry official-turned environmental activist is on trial in China for publishing a book about a controversial coal power plant without state permission. He stands accused, under China’s surreal justice system, of “conducting illegal business.”
(October 16, 2012) A new report by Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC) warns that water shortages in China could undermine power production by water-intensive thermal generators and hydro dams, putting economic growth at risk, especially in the metals and mining, utilities, and manufacturing sectors. Allocating water resources by decree in China’s planned economy is unlikely to work, predicts HSBC’s strategist Wai-Shin Chan. Investors should beware and attempt to estimate the effect of looming shortages on the life of their assets: without water security, investors could be left stranded.
(September 1, 2012) The staggering costs of China’s Three Gorges Dam—the displacement of 1.7 million and counting, and a price tag six-times the original estimate—are well known. But the enormous project’s complicated operational demands are largely unknown, and they promise to get more vexing as more dams are built upstream. Power magazine looks at the complexities of delivering power from such large-scale hydropower plants trans-region, trans-province, and trans-basin and the pressing need for peak regulation, frequency regulation, and emergency reserves for hydropower plants.
(August 14, 2012) Having survived dinosaurs and the Ice Age, China’s legendary Paddlefish has met its gravest threat – Chinese Communist Party officials intent on building dams on the Yangtze to inflate their economic achievements, but that block fish migratory routes.
(July 6, 2012) Experts fear a proposed dam cascade slated for the Jinsha River, a tributary of the upper Yangtze River, could spell disaster. Reports on dam construction in western China’s seismic hazard zones and the risks of over-damming, released by Probe International earlier this year, are highlighted.
(July 4, 2012) As the fierce struggle between China’s hydropower industry and environmental conservationists rages anew, what has become clear in the meanwhile: the country’s rivers cannot sustain the current pace of development.
(February 8, 2012) Admissions of trouble at Three Gorges Dam by China’s powerful State Council last spring, left many wondering how the behemoth dam ever got off the drawing board. Now, in a first, behind the scenes, account of raw power politics, Guo Yushan from China’s Transition Institute describes how Three Gorges critics were silenced, and China’s power mandarins maneuvered, to build the world’s largest and most troubled dam. Read this translation by Probe International of the article that went viral on China’s Internet.
(January 6, 2012) The Xiaonanhai hydro project slated for the Yangtze River poses a threat to China’s most precious wild fish and the supremacy of the law, say Chinese environmentalists and scientists.
(November 17, 2011) The Yarlung Zangbo, or Brahmaputra, is a major international river passing through China, India and Bangladesh. Yet the countries share very little information on the river’s flow, or on their plans to build dams on it. chinadialogue reports on a workshop that brought together scientists and journalists from across the borders, and discusses the real risks of huge dams on the river.
(October 20, 2011) Recent reports show that China’s hydropower output fell over the past year, as drought struck the nation and major rivers declined in flow. The middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze were so badly affected that the Three Gorges Dam was ordered to release more water. This article reveals that the drought cut into power companies’ profits, too.
(October 20, 2011) Two recent reports show that China’s hydropower output has fallen drastically over the past year, as decreased runoff from major rivers has led to falling reservoir levels in China’s major dams. The Bureau of Statistics stated that hydropower output was one-fifth lower than last September, while the National Development and Reform Commission measured a decrease of 24.5% – a loss of nearly a quarter.
In China, hydroelectric output dropped by 20% from a year earlier. Authorities are now warning of winter power shortages in hydropower-rich southern and central regions due to low water storage, leading to questions about the reliability of China’s hydropower assets.
To most observers, Chinese officialdom has supported the Three Gorges Dam without fail. But a closer look reveals growing worries about the dam which has become a symbol of all that is wrong with China’s rise. Here we present Chinese officials’ admissions of problems at Three Gorges, from the sensational mea culpas of senior officials to the subtly expressed worries of eminent scientists.
(September 28, 2011) Shale gas is a burgeoning (if controversial) industry in the United States, but in China, which may have reserves to rival the U.S., development is only beginning. Liu Zhi, of Beijing’s Transition Institute, discusses the potential and the problems of China’s shale gas industry.