| Tuesday, February 01, 2000, updated at 09:54(GMT+8)
Business Developing Hydroelectric Power Means Developing Western Region
Exploiting the rich hydro-energy resources of the western region and sending them to the east coastal areas, thereby realizing the strategy of "transferring electricity from the west to the east", is a "two-win" strategy of the eastern and western regions.
Large-scale development of the western region is a major strategy and idea put forward by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on the basis of a correct assessment of the situation for narrowing the gaps between regions and realizing national common prosperity, it is a concrete expression of the three-step strategy advanced by Comrade Deng Xiaoping for the modernization drive, it is also an important way and strategic measure for expanding effective domestic demands and achieving sustained and rapid economic growth.
The western region boasts rich resources and huge development potential. At present, major efforts should be devoted to the construction of infrastructure facilities of the western region, thereby creating conditions and laying a solid foundation for the all-round development of the western region, at the same time, it is necessary to give play to the western region's resources advantages and characteristics, and to intensify efforts for the development of resources, particularly the development of renewable resources.
China's hydro-energy resources rank first in the world, most of which are concentrated in western regions, such as Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan, Guangxi, Gansu and Qinghai, accounting for about 70 percent of the country's total. Subjected to the limitations of funding and market conditions, however, the rates of exploitation and utilization of China's hydro-energy resources are very low, especially in the western regions. By the end of 1999, the country's total installed generating capacity had amounted to about 70 million kw, making up 18 percent of the exploitable installed generating capacity. There are still many hydroelectric power stations with many good exploitable conditions which need to be developed as quickly as possible. For example, the 4.2 million-kw Longtan Hydroelectric Power Station in Guangxi plays an important role in optimizing the power source structure of south China, alleviating the flood-control pressure of the Pearl River Delta and promoting the economic development in the southwestern region, it has been eight years since the feasibility study report was approved, early-stage input has exceeded 700 million yuan, the work of making water, electricity and gas and supplies and communications service available and the leveling of grounds has been completed, but it is a pity that to this date construction still cannot be started. At present, the pre-stage work of China's hydroelectric power construction is obviously lagging, and the scale of newly started construction work is evidently inadequate, unless arrangements for starting construction of new projects are made as quickly as possible, then after one to two years, the Three-Gorge Project will be the only one large hydroelectric power work under construction in the country.
Hydroelectric power is a renewable clean energy resource, economically developed countries all put hydroelectric power development in the top priority position, while the utilization rate of China's hydro-energy resource is only about 10 percent, less than Asia's average. Power supply is currently abundant, which provides conditions for hydroelectric power stations requiring a relatively long period of development and construction. Needed materials and technologies can all be supplied by China itself, thus making the hydroelectric power industry one of the best investment areas for the current expansion of domestic demands. Hydroelectric power resources are concentrated mostly in the western region, which are the most important resources advantage of the western region, developing hydroelectric power means developing the western region which cannot be developed without the development of the western region's hydroelectric power industry, the two are inseparably associated with each other. The western region has abundant hydroelectric power resources, but limited electric power market; the eastern region has vast power markets, but lacks energy resources.
At present, China's economy has entered a "sufficiency type" from a "shortage type". The State and the eastern region have had the ability to increase their support for the development of the central and western regions. Allocation of some State funds for the exploitation of the western region's hydroelectric power resources which are then transferred to east coastal regions, thereby carrying out the strategy of "transferring "power from the west to the east", turning the resources advantage of the western region into economic superiority, this means the solid support and help extended by the eastern region to the western region, it is also the objective need for the economic development of the eastern region. Such being the case, exploiting the rich hydro-energy resources of the western region and sending them to the east coastal areas, thereby realizing the strategy of "transferring electricity from the west to the east", is a "two-win" strategy of the eastern and western regions.
For example, the southwestern region and Guangdong Province are highly complementary to each other in hydroelectric power resources and power markets. The two rivers-Hongshui and Lancang-alone in the southwestern region can exploit energy resources equivalent to an installed generating capacity of 35 million kw, with an annual power output of 170 billion kwh, the total scale of water power projects already built and under construction is only 7.5 million kw and an annual power output of 37.5 billion kwh, with the degree of exploitation and utilization standing at about 22 percent, so there is still great potential for exploitation and utilization. Guangdong is the province with the fastest economic development in China. A preliminary estimate shows that by 2010, Guangdong Province will at least have to newly add over 10 million kw, plus the small thermal power stations to be suspended and closed, then the province will need to newly add around 15 million kw, so it will have a vast power market. At present, channels through which to transfer electric power from the southwestern region to Guangdong have been completed, and a sound foundation has been laid, the key is to further improve and strengthen these facilities. The Longtan Hydroelectric Power Station of the Hongshui River and the Xiaowan Hydrelectric Power Station of Lancang River should start construction as soon as possible, overall plans and arrangements should be made for power construction in the southern region, and the strategy for "transferring power from the west to the east" should be further implemented, so that the exploitation of hydroelectric power resources will play its due role in the development of the western region.
(Unit of the author: Basic Industry Development Department of the State Development Planning Commission)
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