Zone of Peace
China to Build 20 Hydro Dams on Yangtze River
April 21, 2009
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BEIJING (AP) ? China plans to build more than 20
dams along the country's longest river by 2020 as
part of a plan to further develop the Yangtze
River's hydropower, an official said Tuesday.
The river already has the world's largest
hydroelectric project, the Three Gorges Dam.
China is looking to hydropower as an important
alternative to help it move away from coal, which
provides more than 70 percent of the country's energy supply.
Hu Siyi, the vice minister of water resources,
announced the plans during a forum in Shanghai
that called for hydropower projects on the
tributaries and upper reaches of the Yangtze, a
notice on the Web site of the Ministry of Water Resources said.
But environmentalists and scientists have
questioned the effect of big dams on the
environment, with some reporting problems.
A recent Chinese Academy of Sciences report said
the Three Gorges Dam is harming water quality and
ecosystems of the wetlands as well as fish
stocks, the official China Daily newspaper reported Monday.
Climate change is also likely to reduce the
river's water supply because rainfall has
decreased every year since 2006, it said.
Cai Qihua, director of the Yangtze Water
Resources Committee, was quoted by the newspaper
as saying Tuesday that the government plans to
use 60 percent of the river's hydropower
resources by 2030. Only 36 percent of those
resources were currently being used, he said at the forum.
China boasts the world's largest hydropower
resources, the paper said, at a theoretical potential of 540 million
The Three Gorges Dam has produced enough
electricity since 2003 to supply about 8.8
percent of China's electricity consumption last
year, the official Xinhua News Agency said this month.
Hydro projects will be developed in the upper
reaches of the tributaries, including on the
Yalong, Dadu and Wujiang Rivers, the China Daily said.