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"Small Hydro Power for Firewood" Ecological Protection Project Initiated, Kindling Another Bright Spot of Hydro Construction
   ---In Dec 2003, the launching ceremony of "Small Hydro Power for Firewood" Ecological Protection Project was started simultaneously in Sichuan, Guangxi, Yunnan, Guizhou and Shanxi of China, signifying the formal initialization of nationwide "Small Hydro Power for Firewood" Ecological Protection Project.

    Both No 2 Document in 2002 and No 3 Document in 2003 from the Central Committee of Communist Party of China listed the rural hydro power covering thousand rural households and enhancing the income of the farmers as the important mid and small type infrastructure building, requesting to expand the scale of construction, to enrich the items of construction and to initiate the pilot projects of the "Small Hydro Power for Firewood" Ecological Protection Project. The No 16 Document of the State Council set forth further requirements for implementing "Small Hydro Power for Firewood" Ecological Protection Project in the pilot areas. The Chinese Ministry of Water Resources listed the "Small Hydro Power for Firewood" Ecological Protection Project as one of the "three bright spots" for hydro construction.

    The third session of the 16th Central Committee of CPC pointed out that the principle of people oriented, comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development must be persisted so as to stimulate the overall development of our economy, society and people. The rural hydro power is an important mid and small public infrastructure in the rural areas. The substantial exploitation of rural hydro power and implementation of "Small Hydro Power for Firewood" Ecological Protection Project will directly benefit millions of rural households --- a wise decision made by CPC and the State Council at strategic height to protect the ecology, improve the living of the farmers and enrich themselves in the long run.

    The development of the rural hydro power and implementation of "Small Hydro Power for Firewood" Ecological Protection Project are multi-functional. Salient social, economic and ecological benefits are to be achieved. After the implementation, the problem of burning hay by around 104 million farmers could be resolved, reducing the consumption of burning hay 149 million cm, protecting 340 million mu (15 mu is equal to 1 ha) of forest, reducing the annual emission of 200 million ton of carbon dioxide and 920000 ton of sulfur dioxide. The implementation of the project could unfetter the rural productive forces, change the backward living and life status, alleviate the hardship of chopping and burning the hay, improve the living condition in the countryside and promote the coordinated development between the rural regions and towns.

    The rural hydro power potential in China is abundant, with the exploitable around 130 mil kW which is listed No 1 in the whole world. In the recent years, the new installation of rural hydro power accounts for 2 million kW annually. By the end of 2002, over 1500 counties (cities) developed the rural hydro power and constructed 48,000 SHP stations with the total installed capacity 33000 MW and annual power generation 108.4 billion kWh, representing around 40% of the national total hydro power installed capacity and output. Half of the land, one third of the counties (cities) and one fourth of the population were mainly supplied by the rural hydro power. China's rural hydro power provided or provides supply to over 500 million rural population. Such result is remarkable, as it plays a special role in promoting the rural social and economic development. In many of the counties where the rural hydro power was developed to a full degree, the local economy was boomed and new look emerged. The experiments of Small Hydro Power for Firewood" Ecological Protection Project are going on in a number of provinces. The scenic regions like wulong and Jiuzhaigou in Sichuan province have become the zone of non-smokers and Kangding recovered its previous luxuriant conditions. In Abazhou, the towns of "Small Hydro Power for Firewood" Ecological Protection Project have reached over 50%. In Hunan province, some forest companies stopping felling and succeeded restructuring for other sector by means of developing SHP for firewood. In Anhui province, the SHP was developed to such a degree that no money was spent on SHP for firewood project and over 1200 Yuan RMB as dividend was given yearly to each household on average. The practice shows that the development of SHP and the implementation of SHP for firewood are multi-functional and have a key role to play in solving the issue of hay for the farmers, supplying rural energy, consolidating the ecological construction foundation, protecting the ecological environment, resolving the issues of "agriculture, farmers and villages" and improving the living conditions of the farmers.

    It is known that <Planning of Small Hydro Power for firewood Ecological Protection Project> has been evaluated and approved by China International Engineering consultation Corp. It concluded that the construction of Small Hydro Power for firewood Ecological Protection Project is the valid approach to resolving the firewood issue in the rural areas and it can play a special role in improving the ecological environment, reducing the green house emission and promoting a well-off society. The <Planning> essentially reaches the depth requirement at this stage. The <Planning> regards it rational to solve the issue of firewood for 104 million rural farmers of 2830 households, to newly install SHP for firewood 24.038 million kW with the annual power generation 78.12 bill kWh. The <Planning> considers the project feasible. The total amount of the distribution of SHP potential could satisfy the requirement in the <Planning>. The distribution of SHP resources is mainly in agreement with the distribution of the rural farmers relying on hay to cook and heating. The SHP projects are featured by the simple engineering, shorter construction period, quicker effect, low cost, proven technique, reliable operation, little inundation, pollution-free, low operation cost and longer use for the farmers as affordable energy for firewood. SHP exploitation is a viable part for mid and small basin comprehensive development, beneficial for rational use of hydro power resources and increase of the ability to prevent floods and droughts. Meanwhile, SHP is internationally recognized as the green renewable energy appropriate for wider application and is in conformity with the orientation of China's energy structure adjustment. The farmers could afford the price of electricity to the houses by the SHP for firewood. With the increase of the rural economy and farmers' income, the capability of the farmers against the price of electricity by the SHP for firewood will be increased accordingly. The evaluation holds that all the preliminary work for the pilot projects are ready for starting the construction.

    It is introduced that in 2003 the State selected 26 "Small Hydro Power for Firewood" ecological protection projects to initiate mainly in mid and western key ecological construction areas rich in hydropower resources, densely populated as SHP for firewood and with urgent need of the farmers for firewood, covering 5 provinces and 26 counties.(2004-2-24)

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