China’s transnational basins (of Yunnan and Xinjiang). Hydropower and the water-energy nexus.

Authors: Thomas Hennig*, Philipps-Universität Marburg
Topics: China, Energy, Resources
Keywords: China, Yunnan, Xinjiang, Hydropower, Water-Energy-Nexus, Sustainability
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Bourbon Room, Astor, Mezzanine
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In China’s ambitious renewable energy targets, hydropower still plays a prominent role. Therefore, China's fast-paced hydropower implementation and its political context has attracted significant attention as an important research topic. Current understandings, however, are still limited to the development along large and prestigious river cascades or general national/provincial figures. One key challenge remains, limited access to data and a focus on hydroelectric production. The presentation attempts to bridge this gap, by providing an empirical survey of the entire hydropower development in China’s (Western) transnational basins and by focusing on China's utilization of hydroelectricity. The paper is grounded in the concepts of powershed (first introduced by Darrin Magee and later modified by Hennig & Magee), and by the nexus concept. It analyzes hydropower development from a range of perspectives, e.g. spatial, multiscalar, implication oriented. The paper is driven by the question, why Western China’s transnational basins need all those hundreds of (small- to mid-sized) hydropower projects, often in remote and economically backward (border) areas? The paper wants to provide a better understanding of the diverse trade-offs in rural China’s hydroelectric generation and consumption paradigms, especially the dialectic between rural economic electrification/development, power intensive industries and power exports. Further, a focus on consumption patterns, helps to understand factors that drive (small) HP over-development and it supports a more balanced assessment of SHP and its global reputation as a ‘green’, low-carbon energy source.

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