China to spend US$132 billion on hydro in 2020 renewables push

China plans to spend more than 1 trillion renminbi (US$132.5 billion) by 2020 on large hydroelectric projects to help meet new national goals to increase usage of renewable energy.

Vice Chairman Chen Deming of the National Development and Reform Commission said the hydro investment figure is more than half of the total 2 trillion renminbi (US$265 billion) that China plans to spend on renewable energy by 2020, most of it corporate funds. The plan, which is to reduce use of coal for power generation, also calls for investment in tidal, wind, biomass, solar, and geothermal energy.

Chen said the benefits of dams outweigh the criticism of environmental groups.

“According to our experience, we know large-scale dams can have some environmental impact, but more importantly such projects make a contribution to our energy (mix) and reducing atmospheric pollution,” he told a September 4 news conference at the launch of a medium- and long-term development plan for renewable energy.

The impacts of pollution and shortages of water have hampered investment and led to social unrest in some areas of China, while a recent survey showed poor air quality in Hong Kong is making it hard for companies to attract foreign staff.

The investment is to help China meet its goal of obtaining 15 percent of its installed capacity from renewable sources by 2020, up from 7.5 percent in 2005. When asked about the role of large companies, Chen said power firms with more than 5,000 MW of generating capacity must get at least 3 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

“We expect the majority of the funds to come from companies,” Chen said.

Units of China Huadian agreed in September to form a joint venture to develop renewable energy projects in China, including small hydropower and tidal energy plants. Huadian said the venture is the type of company being encouraged by the government in its �new energy quota system� for power companies. (HNN 9/7/07)

Of about 1 trillion renminbi slated for spending on pollution reduction and energy efficiency goals for 2010, 80 percent would come from companies and just 10 percent from central government, with local authorities and others making up the rest, he added.

Chen also said China plans to be using domestically made and designed equipment by 2020, which he said could cut prices for clean energy worldwide.

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