Hydropower in China
Hydropower is one of the most commonly used renewable energy sources. China accounted for a large portion of the world’s total hydropower capacity, totaling 331 gigawatts as of 2016. In comparison, the United States accounted for 102 gigawatts and Canada accounted for just under 79 gigawatts. In 2016, China added 16 gigawatts of hydropower capacity. China’s state-owned enterprises operate almost all of the hydropower facilities in the country. In 2012, the hydropower industry in China accounted for 218.7 billion yuan in revenue. Hydropower is one of the most cost-efficient renewable energy sources, however, there are several challenges such as long development periods, social displacement, and environmental impacts. As feasible locations become scarcer, investment into the hydroelectric industry may also decline.
Small hydropower has some advantages over large-scale hydro plants, most noticeably its relatively lower environmental impact. It is a low impact option mostly as small hydro plants do not interfere significantly with river flows. In Canada, it has been predicted that up to 7,742 megawatts of small hydropower capacity will be added by 2050. However, a study conducted in Norway in 2011 - indicated that many small hydro facilities may produce a larger impact than a few larger hydropower projects.