Thursday, February 2, 2012

China Opens The Doors To Public Involvement In Hydropower Planning Process

In advance of our presentation on China's nuclear and hydropower resources this coming Tuesday, I thought it would be relevant to post this article from last month by Reuters.  

China's Ministry of Environmental Protection has issued a notice to developers of hydroelectric projects across the country that "projects should be planned 'comprehensively' and must pay attention to 'economic and ecological benefits, local and overall interests (as well as) immediate and long-term interests.' "  This would involve a decision-making process for new project development that includes all potential stakeholders, including residents that could be affected by the dam or impounded reservoir.  On paper, this process sounds similar to the United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) licensing process for new and existing hydroelectric projects, and reflects a continuing gradual shift away from the completely "top-down" infrastructure decision-making process that has historically prevailed in China.  

Our group intends to simulate one of these stakeholder conferences for a hypothetical project development on Tuesday, and each of you will get your chance to "wear a hat".  These types of licensing processes literally take years in the United States, but we will just have to make the most of our time in class!      

The article also discusses the general sentiment for additional "big hydro" in China at the moment, including the apparent trade-off between hydro and nuclear in the current planning process.

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