Will hydropower = high risk for China?
China’s recent strides toward all possible sources of green energy include plans to build hydropower plants – to which local seismic activity poses serious risks. Because of this, China Daily reported Tuesday that one of China’s primary obstacles in commencing its hydropower projects will be the utilization of technology which reduces the dangers posed by natural tragedies (such as earthquakes) as much as possible.
China’s vice minister of water resources Hu Siyi told China Daily that public concern is apparent regarding the threats of future natural disasters. Because of both the public hype around green initiatives as well as the obvious infamy of recent events effecting the environment, the public worries about how future occurrences could impact such projects and technologies.
It is not only the innovations themselves which would be at risk. Geologists point out that man’s impositions – no matter how energy-efficient or advanced – can also pose threats to the livelihoods of local citizens.
China Daily reported certain elements of proof that China officials “have begun to adopt a more cautious attitude toward hydropower projects in response to Japan’s nuclear emergency,” according to Managing Director of The Nature Conservancy’s North Asia Division Zhang Xingsheng. Certain legislative proposals incorporating geological concerns have been passed up to the National People’s Congress regarding upcoming environmental projects, such as upcoming plans to build dams on the Nujiang River.
While current requirements for environmental appraisals and approvals in such natural areas are not strictly enforced, this report indicates that inspirers Japan and Mother Nature may have helped China snap to attention. Moreover, the number of environmental projects and impactful technologies will continue to increase, most likely driving a larger awareness around their impact. Zhang also pointed out that such projects are business investments as well; all risks need to be considered for a wide variety of reasons.
China’s prioritization of hydropower and the innovations to facilitate its progress are driven both locally – by demands for more and more efficient energy – and internationally – by the diplomatic yet imperative pressures for China to reduce its carbon emissions.
If the world power’s 5-Year Plan is aimed at maximizing its ebbing and flowing water sources to dominate the globe in hydropower capabilities, and (China Daily even reported) they won’t slow in their environmental endeavors, will the imminent risks of simply nature catch up with China? How will they establish balance between efficiency, progress and safety?