Hubei Province has significant hydropower resources, not only with large-scale infrastructure, such as the Three Gorges Dam, but also via considerable potential for the development of small-scale hydropower projects, particularly in the Yichang region, where a large proportion of reserves are located. Renewable energy development is a major challenge for China, which needs to reconcile the rise in the cost of fossil fuels and the exponential growth in its electricity consumption. The local and global environmental externalities of thermal generation, particularly based on coal, which is abundant in China, foster renewable energy development. In this context, although efforts have already been made for small-scale hydropower, it has not yet reached the desired level of capacity for the country.
The project aims to build small-scale hydropower plants in two valleys and renovate another plant in a third valley. They are all located in Yichang County. These three subprojects provide an additional capacity of 54 MW for a total investment of some EUR 55m. The project comprises:
- In Tianchihe Valley, the construction of three cascade dams for the installation of 34 MW, which will generate 112 GWh a year;
- In Guanyintang Valley, a facility with two 9 MW turbines, which will generate 52.9 GWh a year;
- In Huangbohe Valley, the renovation of four cascade dams.
They will primarily be used for irrigation and the drinking water supply for Yichang and, secondarily, for power generation in order to achieve a 20% gain on the use of the 37.5 MW installed capacity and increase generation from 90 MW a year to 112 MW.
The clean energy generation created by the project will reduce annual emissions by some 200,000 teq CO2. In addition, replacing the use of firewood with energy consumption produced by small-scale hydropower plants contributes to protecting the natural forests in this region, conserving water resources, combating erosion, and maintaining the balance of ecosystems.
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