Endowed with high mountain valleys and large rivers, China has benefitted hugely from the development of its water resources over recent decades.
Since the turn of the century, the country has more than quadrupled its installed hydropower capacity, accounting for over half of worldwide growth.
Hydropower today accounts for about 17 per cent of total electric power capacity.
According to IHA’s 2020 Hydropower Status Report, total hydropower capacity reached 356 GW in 2019 after a further 4.2 GW in capacity was added and estimated hydropower generation reached 1,302 TWh.
Total hydropower potential is estimated at up to 600 GW.
Pumped storage hydropower in particular is seen as essential to provide flexibility to the power system and continues to be a priority in China’s energy transition.
The government has implemented a series of reforms and policies to speed up the clean energy transformation. In September 2020, China’s President Xi Jinping announced a commitment to become carbon neutral by 2060.
In the next few years, new hydropower projects expected to come online include mega projects such as Wudongde (10,200 MW) and Baihetan (16,000 MW) on Jinsha River, as well as Lianghekou (3,000 MW) and Yangfanggou (1,500 MW) on Yalong River.
Featured case study
China Three Gorges' Baihetan HPP will be China’s and the world’s second largest hydropower plant. Watch the film which premiered at the 2021 World Hydropower Congress exploring the contribution that Baihetan will make in transforming China's energy system.