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Green Energy and Sustainable Development
  2017-01-16 10:24  

Green Energy and Sustainable Development

——Keynote Speech at the 7th "Hydropower for Today" Forum


H.E. Mr. CHEN Lei

Minister of Water Resources of the People’s Republic of China

(November 1st, 2016)


Your Honorable Ministers,

Distinguished Guests and Delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen, 

In this beautiful city of Hangzhou, I feel very pleased to join you in attending the 7th "Hydropower for Today Forum" to share knowledge and experience and exchange ideas and practices around the theme of "Small Hydropower and Green Development", with the aim of encouraging national strategies on green and clean energy and thereby promoting sustainable socio-economic development. First of all, on behalf of the Ministry of Water Resources of the People’s Republic of China, I would like to express my warm congratulation on the opening of the Forum and extend a most cordial welcome to all participants from around the world.

Energy is an important material foundation for the development of human society and a strong driver for the modernization process. In recent years, global energy crisis, environmental degradation, climate change and other issues have become increasingly prominent. The energy supply-demand relationship has experienced profound changes and developing green energy has become a general consensus among the international community.

As the world's largest developing country, China is the biggest energy producer and consumer. Thanks to decades of sustained development, China has formed an energy supply system encompassing coal, electricity, petroleum, natural gas and renewable energy. In particular, green energy has witnessed rapid development and the energy mix has been continuously optimized.

In 2015, the proportion of non-fossil energy in the total installed capacity in China reached 34%, with its newly installed capacity accounting for 40% of the world's total. According to statistics, China is leading the world in terms of installed hydropower, wind power, solar power and nuclear power under construction ranks. The country’s non-fossil based electricity generating capacity has reached 1.5 trillion kwh, accounting for 27% of the world’s total. It replaces about 500 million tons of standard coal and reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 1.25 billion tons and sulfur dioxide emissions by more than 10 million tons. Green energy development in China not only helps advance energy conservation, emissions reduction and the eco-environment restoration, but also makes a great contribution to global climate change adaptation.

At present, China is at a crucial stage of building a moderately well-off society in an all-round way. Industrialization, informatization, urbanization and agricultural modernization have put forward new higher requirements for the development of green energy and energy security. Adhering to the development concept of "innovation, coordination, green, openness and sharing" and the strategic goal of "saving, clean and safe", the Chinese government has unveiled the Energy Development Strategy Action Plan (2014-2020), with the aim of accelerating the transformation in energy consumption, supply, technology and systems, strengthening international energy cooperation and building a clean, low-carbon, safe and efficient modern energy system.

It is expected that by 2020 China's installed hydropower capacity will reach 350 million kilowatts, installed nuclear capacity 58 million kilowatts, installed wind power capacity 250 million kilowatts and installed photovoltaic capacity 150 million kilowatts. By 2050, China will achieve the historic shift from a coal-based to a non-fossil based energy structure.

First, we will adhere to green development and promote energy conservation and emission reduction, focus on the development of clean and low-carbon energy as the main direction of the energy mix adjustment, actively develop hydropower, wind energy, solar energy, geothermal energy, biomass energy and ocean energy, develop nuclear power safely and efficiently and institute the dual control of both total energy consumption and energy intensity to promote low-carbon, cyclic  economic and social development.

Second, we will adhere to the principles of all-inclusive consideration and scientific planning and deployment. We have formulated the master planning for hydropower, wind power and solar power generation and power grid construction, the master planning for construction of conventional hydropower and pumped storage stations and the master planning for centralized and decentralized energy supply. We have also developed appropriate measures in the light of local conditions, pursued diversified development and made proper arrangements for the energy supply system to ensure scientific and orderly development as well as sustainable use of green energy.

Third, we adhere to broad-based distribution and sharing of development benefits in order to enhance people's well-being. China regards the development of green energy as a key measure to improve people's production and living conditions. The government is strengthening the construction of green energy infrastructure and public service capacity and carrying out poverty alleviation by means of small hydropower and solar power projects.

Fourth, we adhere to innovation-driven development and promote scientific and technological revolution. We will develop and perfect the technology code system of green energy. We will vigorously promote the research and development of key technologies, such as offshore wind power, solar thermal power generation, fourth generation nuclear power and geothermal energy utilization. Equal attention will paid to the development of major equipment, such as million-kilowatt-class hydroelectric generating units, and the smart energy system.

Fifth, we insist on reform and innovation and constantly improve institutional framework and working mechanism. We will accelerate the institutional reform of electricity industry and other sectors of energy, implement the "full access to the grid and the same rate on the same grid" policy for renewable energy power, and stimulate the green energy investment and financing. Competition will be introduced to the green energy sector in order to enhance the vigor and vitality of its development.

Hydropower is most technologically mature, economically viable and operationally flexible form of clean green energy. It plays an important role in global energy supply. As a country with the largest hydro potentials in the world, China has been giving prominence to hydropower development in green energy development. The country is leading the world in planning, design, construction, manufacturing, installation and operation and management of hydropower stations. A number of large-scale world-class hydropower projects have been built and put into operation in the country. China's installed hydropower capacity has reached 320 million kilowatts and its annual hydropower production stands at 1.06 trillion kWh, accounting for 22% of the country's total installed capacity and 19% of the annual electricity production respectively. Hydropower has become the second largest source of energy after coal.

The Chinese Government thinks that development and protection should go hand in hand. It upholds the concepts of ecological civilization and sustainable development in the entire process of hydropower development with the aim of striking a balance between hydropower development and environmental protection.

In the planning phase, we strengthen the guiding and binding role of river basin master planning, improve the development planning system of hydro potentials, and divide rivers into key development sections, development prohibition sections and reserve sections in accordance with their natural endowment, resource and environmental conditions as well as the main function zone planning requirements, so as to develop hydropower resources in a scientific and orderly manner and maintain the health of rivers.

In the demonstration phase, we assess hydropower projects in their early stages according to the principles of necessity, ecological security and sustainability, conduct rigorous environmental impact assessment, give full consideration to the ecological impact and the resettlement of reservoir immigrants, compare and select dam sites and types and technical parameters in a scientific manner and draw up holistic measures for maintaining ecological base flows, protecting biotopes, and reducing environmental damage, etc.

In the construction phase, we implement strict engineering construction procedures, bring innovation to construction management models, make extensive use of new materials, new technologies and new equipment and strictly implement environmental protection and soil and water conservation measures in an effort to build eco-friendly projects.

In the management phase, we make full use of modern information technology, actively promote "Internet Plus" and other modern management tools, strengthen hydropower station safety supervision and operation monitoring and implement standardized and scientific management to ensure project safety and public safety.

In the scheduling phase, we plan for upper and lower reaches, left and right banks and rivers and their tributaries as a whole according to the principles of flood control goals overriding water conservation goals, river basin goals overriding regional goals and water dispatching overriding power dispatching. By taking into account flood control, water supply, power generation, navigation, ecological and other objectives and requirements, we carefully formulate scheduling operation plans and carry out dynamic regulation to maximize the comprehensive benefits of hydropower projects.

Ladies and gentlemen!

The Chinese government is fully committed to open development and win-win cooperation and pursues energy cooperation as part of the Belt and Road initiative. We have stepped up oil and gas cooperation in Central Asia, the Middle East, the Americas and Africa with a focus on industrial capacity cooperation in the field of green energy and have accelerated efforts towards green energy infrastructure interconnectivity.

Earlier this year, China ratified the Paris Agreement and made a solemn commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop renewable energy, which helped lay a solid foundation for the early entry into force of the Paris Agreement. As a major producer of hydropower, China is actively involved in international cooperation in this field. With regard to platform building, China has established the International Center on Small Hydro Power together with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and the United Nations Development Program in order to create an international exchange platform on hydropower. This international center has played a crucial role in the publication of the World Small Hydropower Development Report. Its accomplishments were spoken highly by UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon.

In the area of bilateral and multilateral cooperation, China has established long-term partnership with more than 80 countries regarding hydropower planning, construction and investment. In order to share our experience and expertise in water management and hydropower development with the international community, we have actively participated in major events hosted by international hydropower organizations such as International Hydropower Association, and organized a series of high-profile conferences in China, including Hydropower For Today Forum.

In the area of technical assistance, China has undertaken a wide variety of projects ranging from basin planning, hydropower plant design and construction to unit installation and operation in more than 100 countries and regions. We have launched a program entitled Lighting Africa with Small Hydropower to help build a group of water conservancy and hydropower projects in Africa, including the Shiwang'andu Small Hydropower Project in Zambia and the Kaleta Hydropower Project in Guinea.

In the area of personnel training, China has hosted nearly 200 training programs on small hydropower development and river basin planning, etc., benefiting thousands of technicians from Africa, Asia and Latin America, and transferring relevant expertise to many developing countries.

Ladies and gentlemen!

Developing green energy, addressing climate change and promoting sustainable development require the joint efforts of countries around the world. I would take this opportunity to make some proposals on the development of green energy. First, we need to fully implement the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals. Governments around the world should take effective measures to substantially increase the proportion of renewable energy in their energy mix and ensure access to safe, reliable and economically viable modern energy services for all. Second, Technical exchanges and cooperation in green small hydropower and other areas should be strengthened. It can take the form of project cooperation, joint research and training among countries pursuing clean energy strategy, especially when it comes to disseminating best practices and concepts about green hydropower development. It is advisable to further expand the path of green small hydropower development and to promote its sustainable and healthy development around the world. Third, we should upgrade South to South cooperation in green energy, increase financial and technical assistance to developing countries, encourage and support developing countries to broaden the scope of cooperation in hydropower and other green energy, following the principles of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. Countries in partnership should provide to each other with timely updates on their new progress, share the latest achievements and join hands to cope with difficulties and challenges. Fourth, the functions and potentials of International Center on Small Hydropower should be fully tapped. The Center will continuously improve its capacity and competence, deepen the tri-party economic and technological cooperation among developing countries, developed countries and international organizations and strive to stay at the forefront of small hydropower industry.

Ladies and gentlemen!

The world is embracing the new era of low carbon energy. The Chinese government would like to work with the international community to advocate green development agenda and promote the development of clean energy. We look forward to in-depth exchanges and practical cooperation with international partners in the field of hydropower development. Let’s joint hands to address the global challenge of energy security and promote sustainable development around the world!

In conclusion, I wish the forum a complete success! Wish you all a very pleasant stay in Hangzhou!