China's Sichuan province throttles small, medium hydropower plant development

Sichuan Map

A statement from the provincial government says Sichuan is moving to restrict small- and medium-scale hydroelectric power development through 2020.

The south-central province is one of China's greatest cradles of hydropower, with nearly 67.8 GW -- or 20% of the country's total -- of installed capacity at the end of last year.

However, authorities have said the development of hydro resources in Sichuan has often gone unchecked, leading to poor grid integration and an uncoordinated use of natural resources.

This week's announcement -- which bans small hydro development and restricts medium development -- was made so the province can improve its grid system, the government said.

The move by Sichuan follows a similar proclamation by neighboring province Yunnan, which announced in December 2010 that it was beginning an ambitious small hydropower development phase.

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