The construction boom — with capital costs estimated by Greenpeace at $74 billion — is a clear sign that China remains entrenched in investment-driven growth, despite promises by leaders to transform the economic model to one based on consumer spending.
It also raises questions about whether China is weaning itself from coal as quickly as it can and whether officials are sufficiently supporting nonfossil fuel sources over coal.
The dominance of coal power had led to “a sharp decline in investments in renewable energy.”
Hydropower is generated by provincial or central state-owned enterprises. The China Electricity Council, a power industry association, said in a report this year that investment in hydropower had dropped for three straight years and that the amount in the first quarter of 2015 was half that of the same period in 2012.
Nextbigfuture notes that China is reaching the limit of how much hydropower is possible. China has dammed almost every river that can generate hydropower.
China is building more renewable and nuclear energy capacity. The government has said that by 2020, 15 percent of energy consumption will be met by sources beyond fossil fuel. The growth in renewables and nuclear power is expected to meet an estimated 3 to 4 percent annual growth in electricity demand in the coming years