Hydropower is an internationally recognized source of clean and green energy, which has played an important role for the global energy supply. Driven by the increasing demand for energy and global climate change, many countries have given priority to hydropower development in the expansion of their energy sectors. Small hydropower has unique benefits – it is a mature technology which is economically feasible and has minimal impact on the environment. Small hydropower has greatly contributed to solving the problem of rural electrification, improving living standards and production conditions, promoting rural economic development, alleviating poverty as well as reducing emissions. Moreover, small hydropower is an economically efficient technology, and as such, has been highly favoured by the international community, especially by developing countries.
China is the largest developing country in the world as well as the country endowed with the richest hydropower resources. The Government has promoted hydropower to a significant position. By the end of 2015, the total hydropower capacity of China reached 320 GW with an annual output of 1,100 TWh. Hydropower plays an essential role in the energy sector of China, contributing to the adjustment of the energy mix, emission reductions, as well as the economic development of the country, which has also promoted and led hydropower development worldwide. During the 12th Five-year Plan, the Government of China paid particular attention to the small hydropower sector, promoting the people’s “well-being, and safe, green, and harmonious” small hydropower development. To date, 4,400 SHP plants (up to 50 MW) have been upgraded and refurbished; as a result, installed capacity and annual output have increased by more than 20 per cent and 40 per cent respectively. Furthermore, 300 counties completed the objectives of the New Hydropower Rural Electrification County Programme by developing 5,150 MW of newly installed SHP capacity, which accounted for 50 per cent of the total increase in SHP capacity. Additionally, through the national programme Replacing Firewood with SHP, 592,000 households, totalling 2.24 million people, have been provided with access to electricity and 733,333 hectares of forest have been saved. The total installed SHP capacity of China has exceeded 75 GW, with an annual output of 230 TWh, thus, meeting the target set by the Medium and Long-term Renewable Energy Development Plan five years ahead of schedule.
Currently, the Chinese economy has entered a “new normal” characterized by increasing energy demand, as well as ecological and environmental problems, and therefore faces the critical need to adjust the energy mix, improve energy efficiency and ensure energy security. The Government of China advocates for the development concepts of “Innovation, Coordination, Green Development, Opening Up and Sharing” and the energy strategy policy of “Conservation, Clean, and Safe”; it promotes a clean, highly efficient, safe, sustainable and modern energy sector, which is reflected in the Energy Development Strategy Action Plan 2014-2020. China has a great potential for hydropower, which is an important renewable energy source. The Government will actively promote further hydropower development while taking into consideration the environmental and resettlement issues. Meanwhile, SHP development will be incorporated into a poverty alleviation strategy, and will be adapted to local conditions. By 2020, the total installed hydropower capacity of China will have reached 350 GW, of which small hydropower will account for 81 GW.
The achievements of China in small hydropower development have received worldwide attention, representing a good example for other countries. Therefore, the establishment of the International Network on Small Hydro Power (INSHP) and the International Center on Small Hydro Power (ICSHP) in China, was a logical choice. INSHP is the first international organization headquartered in China. Following its mission of an international and non-profit organization and serving the host country, ICSHP is committed to South-South cooperation, global development of small hydropower and promotion of Chinese hydropower enterprises undertaking business activities abroad. The Center has made remarkable achievements in the past 20 years. It has created a unique triangular model of cooperation between international organizations, developing and developed countries. ICSHP has become the international hub for small hydropower, leading the development trend in the international small hydropower industry and disseminating the experience, knowledge and capability of China to countries all around the world.
As the host country of INSHP, the Government of China has always supported the initiatives of INSHP and ICSHP, including cooperation with other international organizations such as the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and independent experts and scholars, in order to share the successful experience of the Chinese small hydropower industry with other countries and regions, and to promote the development of small hydropower worldwide. In December 2013, the first English version of the World Small Hydropower Development Report 2013 (WSHPDR 2013) was published by ICSHP and UNIDO. The WSHPDR 2013 was established with a global vision for small hydropower development: to provide baseline information and a strategic outlook for regional and international institutions as well as countries to develop their renewable energy plans and ensure integrated management of water resources. The report has become an important knowledge platform for global development of small hydropower.
As an update of the first edition of 2013, WSHPDR 2016 comprises 160 national reports and 20 regional reports, with 11 new countries added compared to the previous edition. More than 230 experts and scholars in the field of small hydropower from related governmental institutions, research institutes, universities and colleges, as well as hydropower companies in those countries and regions, contributed to drafting country and regional reports. Analysis of the status of small hydropower development in each country included the following five aspects: electricity sector overview, small hydropower sector overview and potential, renewable energy policy and barriers to small hydropower development. Other issues covered in country reports include information on the power grid structure, electricity tariffs, short-term projects planned by governments, incentives, policies and plans for renewable energy development. Every effort has been made by the authors, ICSHP and UNIDO to make WSHPDR 2016 more comprehensive, practical and authoritative.
Today, the world is entering a new era—an era of low-carbon energy, characterized by dramatic changes in the energy supply-demand relationship. The Government of China is willing to share Chinese technological innovations in small hydropower with the international community, and to advocate the idea of green development of small hydropower, as well as to warmly welcome further exchange and cooperation in the field of small hydropower. To conclude, I would like to express my sincere hope that the publishing of WSHPDR 2016 will help make international small hydropower development inclusive and sustainable and will contribute to creating a beautiful life for all of mankind.