China plans to increase its installed hydropower capacity by 15 million kilowatts to supply electricity for 10 million rural residents from 2006 to 2010, said sources with the Ministry of Water Resources (MWR) on Thursday.
To develop hydropower is not only a way to meet the power demand of Chinese rural residents to improve their living standards, but also an important measure to improve the energy consumption structure of China's rural area, said Cheng Huizhou, director of the Bureau of Rural Hydropower and Electrification Development of the MWR.
The move to replace traditional wood fuels with hydropower for 10 million rural residents will protect 35 million mu (2.3 million hectares) of forest and will establish a long-term mechanism for five million poor people in rural areas to increase their income, said Cheng.
According to statistics of the MWR, China increased its rural hydropower installed capacity by 10.64 million kw from 2001 to 2004. By the end of 2004, the total hydropower installed capacity in China's rural areas reached 38.65 million kw. The reduction of electricity price directly decreased the cost of rural residents by an annual average of over four billion yuan (US$500 million).
(Xinhua News Agency May 5, 2006)