Hydropwer accounts for the overwhelming share of China’s alternative energy mix, but is perhaps also the one of the more controversial alternative energy options due to the ecological and social impacts of dam construction. This guest post by Peter Bosshard, policy director of International Rivers Network, examines China’s growing pains in its increasing role as an exporter of hydropower technology and expertise.
A few years ago, Chinese dam builders and financiers appeared on the global hydropower market with a bang. China Exim Bank and companies such as Sinohydro started to take on large, destructive projects in countries like Burma and Sudan, which had before been shunned by the international community. Their emergence threatened to roll back progress regarding human rights and the environment which civil society had achieved over many years. However, new evidence suggests that Chinese dam builders and financiers are trying to become good corporate citizens rather than rogue players on the global market. Here is a progress report.
In December 2003, China Exim Bank approved $519 million in loans for the Merowe Dam in Sudan (pictured right). It thus helped kick off a project which would displace more than 50,000 people from the fertile Nile Valley into desert locations, and for which the Sudanese government had failed to attract funders for many years. China Exim Bank also provided support to projects in Burma which no other funder was prepared to touch. “The Bank specializes in financing projects that no other financial institutions would fund”, International Rivers and Friends of the Earth warned in July 2004.
Chinese dam builders wasted no time rolling up the international market. Low costs, access to cheap loans and a big portfolio of domestic projects make them attractive partners for clients around the world. We are currently aware of at least 216 dam projects in 49 countries which have some form of Chinese involvement – and counting. The president of Sinohydro recently estimated that his company controls half the Read the full story
Top Stories: Cash for renewables; China may raise fuel economy standards; Pledges smart grid by 2020; Beijing water price hike
I’m not one for sensationalism, but my gosh, when multiple news sources are reporting that the much anticipated renewable energy stimulus package will is going to be for the massive amount of 3 trillion yuan ($440 billion), its hard to resist. The amount is startling, considering that is is three quarters the size the economy-wide stimulus plan announced last November. No details have been given about the allocation of these funds; the news reports are saying a focus on wind, given the recent tripling of wind energy targets in 2020 to 20 GW installed capacity.
But given the size of the funds, one must really wonder if this is going to be a big handout to the nuclear industry, which itself benefited from a national target boost to 70 GW installed capacity by 2020, or big hydro for that matter. Unlike the November stimulus package, which was meant to be a short term boost for industry, this renewable energy package seems to be more far-sighted money, meant to be deployed over time from now till 2020. $440 billion is still quite a large sum considering that National Energy Bureau division chief Liang Zhiping was recently quoted as saying that a sum of $190 billion was needed to realize China’s 2020 renewable energy targets, but more consistent than the forecast by New Energy Finance last year that $398 billion (or $268 billion excluding big hydro) is needed. Then again, we also don’t to what extent nuclear, big hydro and grid infrastructure figure into the $440 billion on $190 billion numbers (they do not in NEF’s $268 billion forecast), so its all very hard to say.
Today’s Green Hops, focusing on energy supply, is a continuation of yesterday’s.
Two important macro-policy documents are in the works. CELB reports that the comprehensive Energy Law may be passed in 2010 (though this Chinese clipping suggests it may be as early as this year), and that the 12th Five-Year Plan for Energy (2011-2015) is in draft mode. Nuclear, wind and hydro seem to bet the alternative energy sources of choice. This alternative energy review by China Daily, in its “Mixed Energy Forecast” seems to similarly suggest the short shrift given to solar. How unimaginative. I’m sure the solar industry would have something to say about that. In fact, it has (see solar section below).
Before turning to the knitty-gritty of the green and brown energy news developments over the past weeks, I would like to highlight a sage piece of advice from CELB, that recognizes that China is still in many ways, but especially economic development, very much a “Rule by Plan” rather than “Rule of Law” society: Read the full story
We’ve gone more than a month without a “Green Hops” update…what a crime! We atone for that oversight here…
Climate Change and International Cooperation
A “high level” summit in Beijing on international technology transfer and climate change held on November 7 and 8 provided a preview of the international climate change negotiations that have kicked off in Poznan, Poland today. A blogger’s review of the Beijing summit can be found at China Green Space (the young author of which is a personal friend and has been getting some recognition lately). Basically, it is more of the same–China wants free capital and free technology from developed countries. This is the same position as what can be found in the recently released China Climate Change White Paper, which Read the full story