Hydropower is by far the main renewable energy in China and has significant development potential (170 to 300 GW by 2020). It should therefore be central to the Government’s objective to increase the share of clean energies in China’s energy mix to 15% by 2020. AFD, at the request of the Chinese authorities, has decided to support a structured program for small-scale hydropower in rural areas in one of China’s largest irrigation areas: Xiangyang-Yindan. This area is irrigated via the diversion of water from the Danjiangkou Reservoir (Xiangyang Municipality) in Hubei Province, in Central China.
It is a comprehensive program to optimize the region’s hydropower potential, particularly for irrigation channels in agriculture. The aim is to diversify the province’s energy mix. It comprises a consistent set of nine small-scale power plants, seven of which will be rehabilitated and two built. As it is run-of-river infrastructure, there is no need to build a dam or reservoir.
Major rehabilitation works will be conducted to reduce energy efficiency losses on the dilapidated facilities, which were built in the 1970s. The project will triple the total installed capacity (from 7.3 to 24 MW for a capacity estimated at 127 MW after the project) thanks to the installation of an additional 16.7 MW. The implementation will be managed by the Yindan Irrigation Area Engineering Management Bureau. The construction works will last two years.
The program will avoid the annual emission of 70,000 tons of CO2, which can be valued on the carbon market. In view of the nature of the investments (rehabilitation/optimization), the environmental and social risk is low (no land buy-back or population displacement).
This operation is one of the key projects of Xiangyang Municipality. Furthermore, this is an exemplary project in terms of limiting environmental and social impacts.