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Opening Speech at China-Austria Workshop on Operation & Development of Sustainable Hydropower
  2017-01-16 10:25  

Opening Speech at China-Austria Workshop on Operation & Development of Sustainable Hydropower


H.E. Mr. CHEN Lei

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

November 10th, 2016


Your Excellency Honorable Federal Minister Andrä Rupprechter,

Your Excellency Honorable Ambassador Irene Giner-Reichl,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

On the important occasion of the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relationship between China and Austria, a historic new starting point for our bilateral relations, we gather in Beijing to conduct exchanges and discussions and deepen practical cooperation regarding sustainable operation and development of hydropower. This is of paramount implications. On behalf of the PRC Ministry of Water Resources, I would like to extend my warmest welcome to His Excellency Honorable Federal Minister Andrä Rupprechter, Her Excellency Honorable Ambassador Irene Giner-Reichl and all the participants present at the workshop!

Energy is a critical material foundation for development of the human society. In the present world, global resources crisis, environment degradation, climate change impacts have become increasingly obvious. As such, a global consensus is reached on energy revolution and green development. The Chinese government attaches great attention and makes firm commitment to energy transformation and reform, and make pushing forward the revolution of energy production and consumption as a basic state policy in China. In the published 2014-2020 Strategic Action Plan for Energy Development, the Chinese government defined a “conservation, clean and safe” strategic guideline for energy development and an energy development strategy that emphasizes “conservation first, a firm foot in China, green and low-carbon, and innovation as a driving force”. It is planned that in China non-fossil energy will take up about 15% of primary energy consumption by 2020 and about 20% in 2030; and unit GDP CO2 emission will go down by 40-45% and 60-65% from the 2005 level by 2020 and 2030 respectively. Carbon emission in China will peak around 2030. We will try our best to reach the peak as early as possible. This is a solemn commitment made by the Chinese government to the world, and an important strategy to promote green development.

At present, hydropower is the clean renewable energy that is most mature in technology, most cost-effective in development and most flexible in scheduling. After long-term development, China is now among the world leaders in hydropower technologies. At the moment, China has 320 million KW installed capacity of hydropower, nearly 1/3 of the world total; and generates 1.1 trillion KWh hydropower per annum, 1/5 of the total national power output, equivalent to saving 360 million metric tons of standard coal and reducing 890 million tons of CO2 emission per annum. The Chinese government regards hydropower as a priority area in the construction of its modern energy system and an important measure for the building of an ecological civilization, the revolution of energy supply and the transformation of its economic development pattern. Specifically, we have accumulated valuable experience :

1. With regard to the concept of development, we stick to the guideline of green and low-carbon development, focus on protection amid development and development amid protection,. Our hydropower works are eco-friendly and help promote harmonious coexistence between Man and Nature.

2. With regard to the strategic layout of hydro development, we take natural endowments, resources, environment and functional positioning of rivers into comprehensive consideration, balance large and medium hydro projects with small hydropower development, construct both conventional hydropower stations and pumped-storage power plants, rationally plan hydropower bases and layouts, and develop hydro resources in a scientific orderly manner.

3. With regard to project verification, we conduct effective upfront work to verify hydro projects according to the principles of real need, ecological safety and sustainability. Full considerations are given to ecological impacts and reservoir resettlement to achieve win-win benefits of hydropower.

4. With regard to scheduling and operation, we observe the principle of “putting flood control ahead of benefit enhancement, river basins ahead of administrative regions and water scheduling ahead of electricity scheduling”. Our scheduling and operation schemes are carefully prepared, in which process we balance upper with lower reaches, left with right banks and trunks with tributaries, and balance different targets and requirements of flood control, water supply, power generation, navigation and ecology. In addition, we follow up such schemes with scientific, dynamic controls and adjustments to attain the best results.

5. With regard to reform and innovation, we enhance research & development and indigenous innovation of key hydro technologies, implement the “Internet +” smart energy action plan. Further, we are working hard to build more robust policy frameworks, investment mechanisms and management systems for hydropower development, so as to build up the potentials for development of green hydropower in a continuous manner. 

6. With regard to outbound cooperation, we uphold the concepts of “opening up for development and cooperation for win-win”. In conjunction with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), China sponsored the establishment of the International Center on Small Hydro Power (ICSHP). In addition, we have developed long-term hydropower partnership with over 80 countries, and carried out hydro development tasks in more than 100 countries and regions. In particular, we implemented the small hydropower “Lighting Africa” initiative in Africa. With ongoing progress of major strategies such as the construction of “One Belt One Road”, energy cooperation including hydropower cooperation will embrace an even more promising future.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Hydropower is a renewable energy. Small hydropower with less than 50,000 KW installed capacity has outstanding advantages including local networking, local electricity supply, mature technology and economic feasibility. As such it enjoys international popularity. China is a major developer of small hydropower in the world. Over the years, we have adhered to best practices such as combining water governance and power generation, coordinating development and protection, taking new projects and renovation works into comprehensive consideration, and attaching equal attention to construction and management. Further, we have implemented relevant projects on a large scale. Among others, we have constructed hydropower-based electrification counties in the new countryside, substituted fuels with small hydropower to protect the ecological environment and reduced poverty by means of small hydropower development. In the meanwhile, old hydropower stations have undergone efficiency and capacity enhancement and/or project renovation. Explorations are underway for mechanisms that will enable hydropower development to directly benefit poor rural households. These efforts have paved a uniquely Chinese way of small hydropower development. At the moment, China has built more than 47,000 small hydropower stations with a combined installed capacity of 75.83 million KW, almost tripling that of the Three Gorges Project, and a combined annual power output of more than 235 billion KW. Such development of small hydropower has made electricity available to more than 300 million people previously without access to electricity. Therefore, small hydropower plays an important role in protecting the eco-environment, promoting energy conservation and emission reduction, enhancing people’s wellbeing, and pushing forward poverty alleviation in China.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

China and Austria enjoy a lasting friendship between our two peoples and a long partnership in water resources and hydropower. We have carried out long-term exchanges and cooperation in various forms and harvested rich gratifying fruits in numerous areas, including but not limited to water resources management, hydro development, water environment protection and capacity building. In 2011, our two sides signed a memorandum of understanding on bilateral cooperation in water resources and incorporated small hydropower as an important area of the bilateral partnership. Austria has also actively participated in the China-EU Water Platform (CEWP), co-leading the cooperation in “rural water challenges” and facilitating a series of exchange events in connection with small hydropower. Today’s workshop builds a great platform for our two sides to consult each other regarding the important strategy on developing clean hydropower. It also symbolizes that the China-Austria water partnership has entered a brand new stage of profound comprehensive growth. Availing myself of this opportunity, I would like to put forward 3 proposals on deepening China-Austria water and hydropower cooperation.

1. Boost policy exchange and dialogue: Let us share our two countries’ latest strategies and policies on water management and management of hydro resources, encourage our hydraulic and hydropower research organizations, basin authorities and relevant enterprises to conduct practical reciprocal cooperation, and actively engage ourselves in CEWP events.

2. Expand areas for technological cooperation: I suggest we enhance science & technology cooperation, information exchange and personnel training in multiple areas, such as sustainable management and protection of water resources, hydropower development, basin management, flood control and disaster reduction, restoration of water ecology, and impacts of climate change on water resources.

3. Lead green hydropower development in the world: I suggest we fully leverage the institutional advantages of our bilateral water partnership to exchange and share green hydropower standards, actively participate in the global processes of green hydro development and water governance, and jointly work towards the water-related targets on the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Finally, I would like to wish the workshop a great success