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SHP IN CHINA
 
Small hydropower installed capacity and annual power generation accounts for about 24% of China’s hydropower. With 47,073 SHP stations currently operating with a total installed capacity of 73 GW, SHP supplies adequate electricity to more than 300 million people in one third of all the counties.  
 
 

Shilongba, the first hydropower station in mainland China
 
A brief history
 
The first small hydropower station in mainland China was installed in 1912.
 
SHP developed under the guiding principle of self-construction, self-management, and self-consumption. This “three-self” policy focuses on a local management and manufacturing mechanism with minimal central government involvement.
 
Small hydropower development began to flourish in the 1960s with its integration in rural electrification programs. However, barriers such as a lack of appropriate SHP technologies, low capacity and natural disasters limited growth.
 
Thus in October 1969 the State Council organized a national meeting in Yongchun County, Fujian Province to gather SHP development experiences and formulate supportive policies. The policies ensured that the ownership, management and benefits of SHP stations went to those who invested in building the stations. This approach effectively promoted the initiative of the local governments and encouraged local people to develop appropriate SHP technologies that fit their local conditions.
 
The opening of the country’s economy during the 1990s led to an increase in the rate of SHP development, especially in terms of scale, management techniques, R&D and policies. In addition, the definition of SHP stations was amended to cover stations up to 50 MW.
 

 
 
By 1996, of the power stations managed by the Ministry of Water Resources, 21,643 MW of the total 24,295 MW installed capacity came from hydropower. The rate of electrification for villages and households improved from 78.1% and 65.3% in 1985 to 97.7% and 97.5% in 2002, respectively.
 
Policy reforms at the turn of the century aimed to revive SHP development activities. Apart from overall policy and strategy stipulated by the central government, all other aspects of SHP development take place at the local, decentralized level. Today, over 28,610 shareholding enterprises and 670,000 employees make up the SHP industry.
 
SHP development today
 
Approximately 62.3 GW of small hydropower potential remains untapped (42% of total available).

 
SHP in China brings electricity to 300 million people in rural areas
 

Small hydropower development in China continues as an integral part of environmental and sustainable development initiatives.
 
Since 2000 the central government has implemented SHP based County Rural Electrification Programs to bring electricity to the 28 million rural people without access. Over 300 million people have further benefitted from the SHP provided through the National Poverty Alleviation Program.
      
The country’s pilot Small Hydro Power Replacing Fuel Wood Program aims to reforest natural areas. Rural residents dependent on biomass to meet their energy needs are provided with cheap electricity from SHP sources. Since 2003 the project has provided 800,000 farmers with electricity and protected 230,000 hectares of forest.
 
 

Chinese practice provides a model worldwide for local sustainable development through provision of clean and economical SHP technology.

 


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