The Chinese led deployment of hydropower
It’s China that is reshaping the global status of hydropower. 5 of the 10 biggest hydroelectric power stations in the world are in China and Chinese companies are working on hundreds of projects in other countries. The role China is playing doesn’t just apply to engineering, Chinese banks are taking the place of funders such as the World Bank on these projects. There are few areas more transformative in energy and climate security today than what China is doing with hydropower. To get a quick understanding of the work China is doing read this overview on projects with Chinese involvement, the key players and the practices they are following. The projects listed that include Chinese involvement notably include eight projects in Myanmar including the 7.1 GW Tasang Dam, the 7.1 GW Sambor Dam in Cambodia, the 7.1 GW Bunji Dam in Pakistan and the 1.87 GW Gibe III project in Ethiopia.
The Three Gorges Dam in China is the largest power plant in the world
Sharing the lessons from the past projects, technical advances still being made and the work done on these new initiatives will help in providing better future implementations. Particularly important area of focus for these new Chinese projects should be around capturing tropical reservoir methane and using it to generate electricity - turning a problem into a asset.
Sharing knowledge isn’t just important for those doing the engineering work. Lessons learned such as these from projects, for those that want to get involved at the NGO level or even in grassroots campaigns as individuals, provide recommendations on how to positively influence development of projects that Chinese companies are involved with.
Considering that many countries in Asia and Africa have huge untapped resources, hydro will likely provide a key part of the future global energy mix. This work will be led by China and the approach taken will have a dramatic impact on emerging economies. If Chinese companies can follow good practices in terms of development it will be helping many countries take a Cleanleap. If not we run the risk of trading bountiful renewable energy for significant environmental damage.