Monday, January 31, 2011

Burmese to Get Just One Percent of Energy from Dams

Burmese to Get Just One Percent of Energy from Dams

by Sai Zom Hseng
Monday 31 January, 2011

Almost all of the electricity expected to be generated by hydropower
dams now under construction in Burma will be sold to China and Thailand,
with just one percent going to domestic consumers, according to
environmental watchdog groups.

During a recent seminar on the Thai-Burmese border, groups researching
the impact of the dams on rivers in Burma and neighboring countries
noted that Chinese companies are involved in all but one of 21 major dam
projects currently underway in Burma.

"Since China is the main investor in the dam projects, it will receive
most of the electricity. China will get 48 percent, while 38 percent
will go to Thailand and 3 percent to India. Only one percent will be
available for domestic consumption," said Sai Sai, the coordinator of
Burma Rivers Network (BRN), one of the groups that took part in the seminar.

The remaining 10 percent, he added, will be used by the Burmese military
and on large-scale development projects such as the construction of a
natural gas pipeline from western Burma's Arakan State to China.

According to BRN, the 21 dams being built in Kachin, Shan, and Karenni
states and Mandalay and Sagaing divisions will produce a total of 35,640
megawatts (MW) of electricity.

Following visits to Burma by Chinese officials late last year, Chinese
investment in the Tasang dam, located on the Salween River in Shan
State, is set to increase from US $6 billion to $10 billion, said Sai
Sai, who added that the dam will be the largest in the state when it is

While China is laying claim to most of the electricity being generated
by the dams, India is also investing heavily in other projects designed
to meet its own needs.

The Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project, which aims increase
India's trade with Southeast Asian countries and give it better access
to its isolated northeastern state of Mizoram, was also criticized at
the seminar for failing to take into account its impact on local people
and the environment.

"We're not saying the project should never be implemented, but it should
be put on hold until there is a more accountable government in Burma
that will think about the impact and the effects of the project," said
Aung Marm Oo, the director of the Arakan Rivers Network.

The project, which will involve the development of the Sittwe seaport in
Arakan State and the dredging of the Kaladan waterway to Paletwa in Chin
State, will be carried out by Indian state-owned and private companies
in cooperation with the Burmese regime, which will be responsible for
constructing a highway from Paletwa to the Burma-India border.

According to Indian media reports, the $110 million Indian-funded
project will be completed in 2014-5.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh has also staked a claim to a portion of Burma's
growing hydropower capacity. It plans to buy most of the electricity
that will be generated by four projects now under construction in Arakan
State, including the Laymro dam, which will become the largest in
western Burma with a capacity of 500 MW.

Some of the remaining electricity will be used to construct pipelines to
send natural gas from Burma's Shwe gas fields to China, according to
ARN's Aung Marm Oo.

ARN says that its research shows that the projects will deprive local
people of their land and livelihoods. Even in the preliminary stages of
the projects, there have been many cases of land confiscation and forced
labor, the group said.

Grace Mang
China Global Program Coordinator

phone: + 1 510 848 1155
skype: grace.mang

This is International Rivers' mailing list on China's global footprint, and particularly Chinese investment in
international dam projects.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Ethiopia: Mega irrigation project on disputed river planned

Ethiopia: Mega irrigation project on disputed river planned
Thursday 27 January 2011 / by Desalegn Sisay / 3 opinions

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has announced plans to start an
irrigation project on the trans-boundary Omo River. The announcement
comes in spite of an unresolved contention raised over the
government�s Gibe III Hydropower Project, which is currently underway
to generate 1800MW. Analysts argue that Ethiopia should negotiate with
countries like Kenya and Egypt before embarking on such projects.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi who appeared at a ceremony in
Jinka, a town in the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples
Regional State, on January 25 to celebrate the 13 Pastoralists Day
announced his government�s plan to embark on a mega irrigation plan
using the Omo river�s water.

The project will see the cultivation of sugar cane on 150,000 hectares
of land, three times larger than the size of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia�s
capital, in the Southern Omo Region on the trans-boundary of the Omo

According to the Prime Minister, the irrigation project is expected to
create 100,000 jobs; A situation that will promote not only a more
settled lifestyle for local pastoralists but also harness the area�s
water shortage and aid them to undertake more modern systems of animal


Gibe III Hydropower, another project on the the Omo River, has in
recent years been an object of criticism among international NGO�s and
pressure groups who have argued that the project will adversely impact
the livelihood of surrounding communities.

Critics insist that the dam will minimize the volume of water that
enters Lake Turkana, in Kenya, from the Omo River and negatively
impact residents of the area.

Pressure, exerted by the environmental activists, eventually resulted
in International financial institutions like the World Bank, the
African Development Bank and other donors declining to assist Ethiopia
financially vis-�-vis the construction of the mega dam project.

Despite the project�s delay, caused by the withdrawal of international
financial institutions, Ethiopia remained on its position and
eventually gained financial support of close to 500 million US dollars
from the Chinese government, covering 36 per cent of the project�s
total cost.


Analysts say that Ethiopia�s current relationship with emerging
economies such as China and India has served as a bulwark against both
pressure groups and influence from Western countries, thus allowing
the Horn of Africa country to undertake projects without fear of

Others have expressed fears over Ethiopia�s current position, arguing
that it could lead to possible conflicts with neighboring countries,
including Kenya and Egypt, unless negotiation is set as a prerequisite
regarding mutual economic benefits before commencement of any
disputable projects.

Prime Minister Meles who in 2009 asserted that Ethiopia will not
slowdown its efforts to industrialise for fear of worsening the state
of the environment, stating that Africa�s "contribution to global
warming is negligible" in comparison with "�ndustrialised countries",
said that the irrigation project which is to be carried out in the
next five years will make the area a showcase of fast track development.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Massive Chinese Hydro Project Moves Ahead

Massive Chinese Hydro Project Moves Ahead
Breakbulk Staff | Thu, 01/27/2011 - 02:16
Breakbulk Online - News Story

An environmental impact assessment report for Sinohydro Corporation's US$1.17 billion Angu Hydropower Station was approved by the Ministry of Environmental Protection in Beijing.

Angu Hydropower Station, located in Shengjiangpo, on the boundary between Shawan District and Shizhong District of Leshan City, is the last project in the cascade development scheme for the mainstream of Dadu River, according to Industrial Info Resources.

The power station will consist of a main dam, two auxiliary dams, a power house, a ship lock a tailrace canal, and a flood discharge canal, powered by four 190-megawatt hydraulic turbine generators and a 12-megawatt small unit bringing the project's capacity to 772 megawatts.

Construction of main works is scheduled to begin in May and the project is expected to be completed in 2015, according to IRR.
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sinohydro sub-contract for Gibe III Project

Sinohydro sub-contract for Gibe III Project

(The following text is an unofficial translation of the Chinese announcement. For more information on the Gibe III Dam, which may well be the most destructive ongoing dam project in Africa, see International Rivers)

The Eighth Branch of Sinohydro Won 307.1 million yuan Ethiopian hydropower Gibe3 hydropower penstock and manufacture and installation of metal structures and equipment items  2011-01-11 Source: Stock News Center  Recently, the 8th Branch of Sinohydro won the first bid in the New Year, the company's manufacture and installation of mechanical and electrical branches of international cooperation with Dongfang Electric Group, Africa Ethiopia Gibe signed a 3 station pressure pipe manufacture, hydraulic gate metal structures and equipment manufacturing, steel and metal stress structure equipment and hoist equipment installation contract. The total contract amount of 307.1 million yuan.  Ethiopia, Gibe3 hydropower station is located near the city of southwest Sodo, about 450 km from the capital Addis Ababa. Gibe3 is the OMO river cascade development in the first three power plants, power plants install 10 187 MW Francis turbine unit.  The project plan November 1, 2010 start plant a concrete pouring, September 1, 2011, 1 tail pipe started to install, May 1, 2013 under the gate began to water, September 15, 2013 with commissioning the first unit filled with water conditions, July 15, 2014 all 10 units to complete installation.  Gibe3 Hydropower metal structures and equipment, including diversion and power generation systems, discharge systems and hoist metal structure, with a total weight of 6426.5 tons. Gibb diversion penstock 3 hole five machines for a layout, there is arranged a total of 2 water pressure pipe, pressure pipe total weight of 8585 tons.  With 3 Power Station penstock Ethiopia Gibemanufacturing, equipment manufacturing hydraulic metal gate structure, penstock and headstock with metal structures and equipment installation contracts signed, hydropower station eight innings has assumed the task of all mechanical and electrical equipment installation and all metal structures and equipment and pressure pipe manufacturing installation tasks.  Station Owner for the Ethiopian National Power Company EEPCo (owners), civil construction company contracted by the Italian SALINI, Sichuan Dongfang Electric Group, electrical and mechanical equipment for the project of international cooperation in general contracting, Chengdu Hydroelectric Investigation and Design Institute Advisory Group is responsible for power metal structures and equipment, penstock and the design of mechanical and electrical equipment factory.  

Innovative small hydro company in SA

NuPlanet: a new force in small hydro
26 January 2011
Small hydro development remains the sole focus for South African
company NuPlanet. Here project manager Seline van der Wat gives
details about the company�s existing hydro schemes, as well as those
in the pipeline for future development

NuPlanet is a South Africa based small hydro developer, owner and
operator. In 2009 the company commissioned the first unit of the 7MW
Bethlehem Hydro project, the first new green field hydropower project
in South Africa since the 1980s. In 2010 the second unit of Bethlehem
Hydro was commissioned, and NuPlanet secured the exclusive development
rights on a further 16MW of green field hydro.

NuPlanet is unique in the southern African market in that it is only
focussed on hydropower and had not joined in the rush to large scale
wind and solar projects. Anton-Louis Olivier, the founder and Managing
Director of NuPlanet explains this strategy: �We found that although
there is a lot of commonality in developing independent, renewable
power projects, hydropower development requires a lot of specialised
skills, knowledge of the technology and operational aspects, which are
all unique to hydro. This expertise gives us a competitive edge and
enables us to manage development, construction and operational risk in
a very efficient manner,� he says. �Rather than compete with the
experienced international wind and solar developers, we are focused on
small hydro where we have a definite advantage.�

NuPlanet was established in 2006 in South Africa with investment from
two South African private equity funds. According to Olivier this
investment made it possible to finance and implement a business
strategy that did not rely on grants or donor financing:
�Traditionally small hydro development was donor funded and once off.
We have not come across any other developers in the market that were
able to move beyond a first project. Because NuPlanet has its own
resources, it can develop projects at its own risk and under its own
control and move away from the typical impoverished developer model.�

The business model on which NuPlanet functions is based on active
ownership and responsible, sustainable development of renewable
energy. All projects are developed in close co-operation with all
stakeholders: landowners, financial, governmental and particularly
local communities.

Recently, NuPlanet was awarded an exclusive generation licence for a
5MW plant at Mtirikwi Dam in Zimbabwe. This is NuPlanet�s first
secured project outside South Africa. Olivier adds: �We are very
pleased to have been awarded this project and to move internationally.
Although South Africa has got some good small hydro potential and a
strong financial sector, the potential for projects in South Africa is
very limited, probably to around 300MW, excluding new dam
construction. Our long term growth will therefore come from outside
South Africa.�

Small hydro market in Africa

The hydropower potential in Southern Africa has traditionally
consisted of two market segments:

� Large national or international projects such as the one or two
large hydro projects found in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Namibia
and Mozambique and the projects along the Zambezi.

� Small hydro systems dating back to the days before large scale grid
interconnections, but now interconnected and micro systems serving
isolated grids.

These two markets experienced growth in the 1960s to 1970s and then
stagnated, with no new large hydro being constructed until the recent
start of the 250MW Bujugali project in Uganda and a couple of isolated
small hydro projects. Recently however the hydropower market has
changed. This is due to a number of factors:

� Increased economic growth in sub Sahara Africa has led to increased
demand capacity shortages.

� Increased liberalisation and regulation of the power market enabling
private sector participation.

� Growing awareness and acceptance that new generation capacity will
require higher tariffs than existing tariffs.

� Increased willingness of development and commercial banks to provide
project finance type debt on small projects.

� Increased international interest in the Southern African market as a
future growth market and due to climate change issues.

Barriers to development

Sub Sahara Africa�s small hydro potential still remains largely
untapped. Hundreds of sites have been identified over the years but
not developed. Despite the growing demand for power in the region,
most small hydro power projects still remain in the concept stage due
to a number of factors as outlined below. Small hydro will, almost by
definition, be developed by the private sector. National utilities in
the region do not have the resources or appetite for small generation
projects and are, rightly so, focussed on larger projects. The private
sector will need to overcome the following:

� High cost of grid interconnection as sites are far from the existing

� Lack of credit worthy off takers to support project finance

� Lack of debt financing. This barrier is rapidly diminishing, with
development and commercial financial institutions increasing their
market penetration into the region.

NuPlanet�s portfolio

NuPlanet has identified some 300MW of small hydro potential in the
Southern African region, with most projects in the range of 5-20MW.
Table 1 show details of existing projects.

Bethlehem Hydro

Bethlehem Hydro was created to own and operate the 3MW Sol Plaatje and
the 4MW Merino plants located near Bethlehem, South Africa.

Both the Merino and Sol Plaatje power stations can operate semi-
autonomously. During normal operations the plants are self-governed
and do not require operator inputs. There is therefore no requirement
for full-time operational staff. Day to day operation of the plants in
Bethlehem Hydro is contracted out to Revolution Energy, which is a
division of NuPlanet.

Sol Plaatje

The Sol Plaatje power station has a generating head of approximately
11m and at a maximum flow of 30m3/sec will generate 3MW. The power
station is located on the right bank of the Sol Plaatje dam which
required an extension of the dam wall. A new intake was constructed
within the non-overspill flank and the power station was located
immediately downstream of the intake.

Water is returned to the Liebenbergsvlei river downstream of the dam.
One 2.1m diameter double regulated Kaplan turbine, attached to a
generator, is installed in the power station.


Merino is a run-of-river plant and consists of a diversion weir with a
semi-circular spillway in the river, a 700m long canal to transfer the
water to the power station, a small forebay and the power station
situated in a sandstone bank from where the water is returned to the
As river. The generating head is approximately 14m and the generation
output at the maximum flow will be about 4MW. A single Kaplan turbine
and generator are installed in the power station.

Projects under development

NuPlanet has also acquired the rights to develop another 17.5MW of
hydropower in Southern Africa. Altogether these new power stations
will have an estimated capital cost of R350M (US$46M). The new
projects are:

� Botterkloof Hydro: 4.1MW run-of-river located on the As river.

� Boston Hydro: 4.1MW run-of-river located at the As river.

� Bivane Hydro: 2.7MW located at the Bivane dam.

� Mutirikwi Zimbabwe: 5MW located at the wall of the Mtirikwi dam.

Seline van der Wat, Project Manager at NuPlanet. Seline

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India: taming the tides in Gujarat

India: taming the tides in Gujarat
January 26, 2011 3:00 am by Akanksha Awal
3 0
While China declares itself as a world leader in wind energy, India is
also trying to make its claim in the global renewable energy sector,
and it is one step closer with the announcement that it plans to build
Asia�s first commercial tidal power plant.

The state government of Gujarat has signed preliminary agreement with
Britain�s Atlantis Resources corporation to build a 250 MW tidal power
plant in the Gulf of Kutch along the country�s western coast.

The title of Asia�s first tidal power plant should be bestowed upon
South Korea for a plant being constructed near the Sihwa Lake on the
west coast of the country, but construction on the project has been

India�s recent investment in the renewable energy sector has grown
significantly. Two years ago India�s current government made renewable
energy its top priority, appointing Jairam Ramesh � a high-profile
politician � to the post of environment minister.

The country currently produces approx 15,000 MW of power from all
renewable sources, according to the Ministry of New and Renewable
Energy. Manmohan Singh, India�s prime minister, has put priority on
solar energy exploration to meet the country�s rising energy needs.

Private players too have been active in the sector: in 2009, Tata
announced plans for geothermal energy exploration in Gujarat, and the
Reliance group has set itself a target of producing 1000MW of
electricity from renewable sources by 2013.

The Gujarat power plant could power up to 100,000 houses, but at 250
MW it will be an minuscule contributor to the state�s 7000 MW
renewable energy target and and even small contributor to its 11,000
MW power needs.

Although the actual project costs of the plant have not been
disclosed, they are estimated to be something to the tune of �hundreds
of millions of dollars�, according to Tim Cornelius, the chief
executive of Atlantis Resources. He told beyondbrics that the company
was in talks with third-party investors to secure funding for the next
stage of the project and an announcement could be made in the next six

The high costs of the power plant have not deterred other state
governments from investing in the technology. The landmark deal is
said to have generated interest from Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal �
the two states with long coastlines � which have contacted Atlantis to
conduct preliminary investigation to establish feasibility of tidal
power plants in these regions.

The interest generated by various state governments indicates their
overwhelming desire to meet the ever increasing power demand bought on
by rapid industrialisation.

�The power plant will allow sustainable development, technology
transfer and stimulate the local economy,� Cornelius said.

The construction of the Gujarat tidal power plant will begin by the
end of the year � initially with a capacity of 50 MW � while full
installation and commissioning will only complete by the end of 2013.

And with that, the country hopes to make its mark on the renewable
energy sector globally � deemed important to an emerging superpower as
it seems that present-day global supremacy wars are being fought on
the alternative energy pitch.

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Botswana project poses threat to Victoria Falls - Zim

Botswana project poses threat to Victoria Falls - Zim

Tuesday, 25 January 2011 16:40
FRANCISTOWN: Botswana government�s planned irrigation scheme in the
Pandamatenga area is likely to fail, The Gazette has learnt.

Botswana has apparently notified other Southern African countries of
its intentions to extract some 30 cubic metres from the Chobe River
where it meets the Zambezi River for a planned irrigation scheme in
the Pandamatenga area for domestic water supply, according to the
Standard newspaper in Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwean Minister of Water Resources Development and Management,
Samuel Sipepa-Nkomo is quoted as saying the attractiveness of the
mighty Victoria Falls, one of the natural wonders of the world, is
under threat if Botswana goes ahead with its planned extraction of
large volumes of water from Chobe River for the Pandamatenga area.

Sipepa-Nkomo said this would affect foreign currency inflows for both
Zimbabwe and Zambia pumped in by tourists who throng the falls
annually to witness the "smoke that thunders."

Samuel Sipepa-Nkomo reportedly told Parliament Zimbabwe was
considering Botswana's submission.

However, he noted that the project might have serious repercussions on
Victoria Falls, the largest curtain of water in the world, which is 1
708 metres wide. "They have notified us because the Zamcom (Zambezi
Watercourse Commission) agreement requires them to do that and we are
now considering their submissions," he said.

"Though more studies may be necessary, it looks like 30 cubic metres
is a lot of water which might deprive the attractiveness of the
Victoria Falls."

Victoria Falls, which is still preserved in its natural state,
continues to attract tourists as more than 14, 000 tourists were
recorded during the festive season.

The falls and the surrounding area has been declared National Parks
and a World Heritage Site, thus preserving the area from excessive
commercialization, the paper wrote.

The Minister said Mozambique had also notified Zimbabwean authorities
of its intention to construct Mphanda Nkuwa Dam which is set to
generate some 2275MW of electricity for the country.

The dam site, which is on the Zambezi River, lies between Cabora Bassa
dam and the City of Tete in Mozambique. Unlike the Botswana project
the Minister gave the Mozambique dam project thumbs up.

"This project is an advantage to Zimbabwe because we can import more
power from Mozambique," Sipepa-Nkomo said.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Kenya Aims to Make Geothermal Energy Main Power Source

Kenya Aims to Make Geothermal Energy Main Power Source

By 2014 January 24, 2011, 2:28 PM EST
More From Businessweek
By Sarah McGregor

Jan. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Kenya, Africa�s largest producer of geothermal
power, is aiming for the energy supply to surpass hydro as the top
contributor to the country�s electricity grid by 2014, said Silas
Simiyu, chief executive officer of the state-owned Geothermal
Development Co.

A 10-year, $2.6 billion exploration plan will involve sinking 566
wells in the Great Rift Valley, where shifting tectonic plates provide
a key source of the energy, the company said in a statement yesterday.
GDC is expected to begin drilling in Menengai in central Kenya this
week, with an initial aim to find sufficient reserves to feed a 400-
megawatt facility by 2014, Simiyu told reporters yesterday.

Over the next decade, the company aims to discover 2,336 megawatts of
steam produced by hot underground rocks that boil water. The vapors
are used to power turbines. Geothermal energy currently accounts for
12 percent of Kenya�s 1,405 megawatts of generation, including an
installed capacity of 212 megawatts at a plant at Olkaria, about 120
kilometers (75 miles) outside of Nairobi, the capital.

�We should not see a situation of power shortages like we had before,�
Simiyu said.

Drought in Kenya two years ago depleted water levels at hydropower
dams, which supplies 55 percent of the country�s electricity. The
resulting power rationing between August and October 2009 hindered
growth in East Africa�s largest economy.

Kenya estimates the extent of its unexploited resources ranges between
7,000 megawatts and 10,000 megawatts at 14 �high- potential� locations
valued at $30 billion, according to the statement.

--Editors: Emily Bowers, Agnes Nikoi.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah McGregor in Nairobi at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Nigeria: Water experts want water dams tapped for hydroelectricity

Daily Independent (Lagos)

Nigeria: Experts Task FG On Potentials of Dams for Hydro-Electricity
Chibuzor Emejor

20 January 2011

Abuja � Experts in the water sector management have tasked the Federal
Government to give priority attention to the development of hydro-
electricity potential of the 19 existing dams in Nigeria.

This formed one of the resolutions of the stakeholders in the just
concluded Presidential Summit on Water held in Abuja.

A communiqu� made available to Daily Independent also urged the
Federal Government to properly position the water sector and move
water supply coverage in Nigeria from the current 58 percent to 75
percent as well as improve sanitation from 32 percent to 65 percent by

It noted that 50 percent of the country's health burden will be lifted
if the water sector is well developed, as colossal loss of Gross
Domestic Product (GDP) occasioned by this situation will drastically

The experts lamented that despite the huge water resources endowment,
Nigeria in comparison with other emerging economies is grossly under-
developed in terms of potable water supply, dams and irrigation


They also called on the Federal Government to invest more in
hydrological and flood control issues, particularly hydro-
metrological, early warning systems, hydro-graphical and hydrometric
data collection and flood plain analysis.

As part of the urgent measures to ensure the implementation of the
road-map on water, the stakeholders called for the setting up of
standing Presidential Committee on Water Sector Development to be
chaired by President Goodluck Jonathan and selected State Governors
and private sector.

The communiqu� appealed to States and Local Governments to play the
needed roles in cost sharing both in terms of up scaling budgetary
provision for the water sector and in maintaining the infrastructure
in collaboration with the Federal Government.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Beijing and troubled nations: Signals of a shift

Beijing and troubled nations: Signals of a shift

By Geoff Dyer
Financial Times, January 20 2011

As the 2008 Olympics approached, China underwent a crash course in the politics of overseas investments when human rights groups accused Beijing of holding a “Genocide Games” on the grounds that its oil investments in Sudan were sustaining a scorched earth campaign in Darfur. For the Chinese leadership, however, its Sudanese headache is only just beginning.

In Beijing just as in Khartoum and elsewhere in east Africa, the outcome is being anxiously awaited from a referendum held this month in southern Sudan on whether to separate from the rest of the country. If the poll confirms enough support for separation, the south could become the world’s newest country as early as July.

Even after relatively conciliatory words from Khartoum, distrust of the regime runs deep in the south. Some fear the separation could even reignite a civil war that once claimed 2m lives. For China, the potential break-up is one of the biggest diplomatic tests yet for Beijing’s ambitious push into overseas natural resources. About 80 per cent of Sudanese oil is in the south, but the port used to ship it abroad is in the north, fed by a pipeline. As the biggest foreign investor in Sudan, China finds itself caught in the middle of the country’s visceral internal divide.

Beijing prides itself on a foreign policy of non-interference, a pledge to do business with whatever government is in power in a country without being drawn into domestic political issues. But Sudan’s looming division could thrust China into the unfamiliar role of powerbroker in a distant land.

“This could be the first real test of our non-intervention strategy,” says Jin Canrong, an international relations professor at Renmin University in Beijing. According to Daniel Large, an expert on China’s relations in Africa at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, China could find itself caught “between advancing armies” if the situation deteriorates.

For all its rarity, the Sudan referendum is an example of what China will increasingly face as its overseas investments expand – the diplomatic burdens of being an aspiring superpower. Chinese strategists insist that their country will not be drawn by the temptations of empire and has no desire to become a powerful outside force in African politics.

Yet, realists would argue, it is interests rather than ideas that end up shaping the foreign policy of great powers. China’s expansion into energy, resources and infrastructure across the globe is likely to take it into new entanglements where neutrality becomes ever harder to sustain and Beijing is forced to take sides and influence events.

Technical setbacks and a tricky transition

If senior southern officials have their way, China’s transition from oil producer in Sudan to oil producer in a new South Sudan is likely to be tricky, writes Katrina Manson.

The governor of oil-producing Unity state, near the north-south border, says he wants to open up three blocks to new tenders. The state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation has a 40 per cent share in the blocks, which straddle the border, through the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company consortium in which Malaysia’s Petronas Carigali Overseas and India’s ONGC Videsh also have stakes.

The Chinese, says Taban Deng, the governor, have not developed the concession effectively. “The bulk of oil is lost down there,” he says,sitting under a mango tree outside his home in the state capital. “I don’t think we are going to maintain such an operation.” He also says the Chinese have polluted the area, and failed to employ local people.

At GNPOC’s Unity oilfield, technicians say only 93 of 125 wells are running, pumping out 31,000 barrels a day. They blame technical setbacks. The air is filled with smoke, and fumes from a lake of thick, black crude. A muezzin calls employees to prayer – almost all from the mainly Muslim north. Since the few in skilled jobs resigned recently, the camp is depleted of workers from the south, which is dominated by strong Christian networks. “Maybe they think the area here is not safe for them,” says Elamin Etahir, field foreman.

A 2005 peace agreement ending decades of civil war requires revenues from southern oil to be shared between north and south – but the production and transport of oil is so intertwined it is not clear how to determine what is from where. “They will need to change all the metering to know how much comes from the south,” says Yasir Shyam, Unity field operations manager.

In Juba, the proposed capital of an independent south, Chinese diplomats believe only they have the technical know-how to produce the oil. “Mr Taban is quite a friend of ours – maybe he is complaining a bit,” says Zhang Jun, China’s consul for economic affairs in the city. In any event, say Chinese diplomats, it is unclear how much weight local state officials would have compared with the emergent national government.

China itself is unhappy with operating conditions. Its workers have been kidnapped; at least two contractors have not been paid; and this week three of its citizens have been arrested in Juba. “Our people are risking their lives,” said Mr Zhang. “This is far from a society running by law.”

Charles Freeman, a China expert and former US diplomat, remarked last year that China’s statements about the modesty of its international ambitions echoed isolationist sentiments that were common in the US a century ago. “The United States did not then seek to dominate or control the international state system, nor did it pursue military solutions far from its shores,” he said. “In time and in reaction to events, however, America came to do both.”

China has been instrumental in building Sudan’s oil sector. In 1996 China National Petroleum Corporation, the parent company of Petro­China, acquired a 40 per cent stake in the country’s most lucrative oil concession. China also helped build a refinery, export terminals and the pipeline that transports much of the country’s oil up to Port Sudan on the north-east coast. Chinese companies now control about 40 per cent of Sudan’s oil sector. About 60 per cent of the country’s oil is sold to Chinese customers, making Sudan one of its six biggest oil suppliers.

At the time of the 2005 peace deal that brought to an end five decades of on-off civil war, Beijing hoped this would be a prelude to greater economic and political integration between the two regions. Chinese investment accelerated. However, the agreement also called for a referendum to be held and it become increasingly clear that the south, where Christian and traditional beliefs predominate, would vote for secession from the largely Muslim north.

China is usually strongly opposed to the break-up of multi-ethnic countries, for fear that it could encourage similar demands from its own ethnic groups, most notably in Tibet and the heavily Muslim Uighur population in Xinjiang, or encourage an independence push by Taiwan. For instance, China refused to recognise Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2007.

But as the likelihood of southern Sudanese secession has loomed, Beijing became aware that it faced hostility from an independent government in the south that would see China as the principal backer of its enemy. Many in southern Sudan view Beijing’s investments during the 1990s, at a time when the civil war was raging, as an implicit intervention on the side of Khartoum.

“If they want to protect their assets, the only way is to develop a very strong relationship with the government of southern Sudan, respect the outcome of the referendum and then we will be doing business,” Anne Itto, deputy head of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, the south’s leading political group, said last year.

In order to defend its interests and keep the oil flowing, China adopted a more nuanced role. It backed the deployment of United Nations peacekeepers in the face of Khartoum’s hostility and opened a consulate in Juba, the putative capital of an independent south. The last two years have brought a series of visits by Chinese officials to Juba and by leaders from southern Sudan to Beijing, including Salva Kiir, the SPLM head, who has been to the Chinese capital twice. PetroChina is building a computer laboratory at the University of Juba that will bear the company’s name.

China also intervened when reports surfaced that the Khartoum government might try to delay the referendum. Liu Guijin, special envoy for Africa, called for the vote to go ahead on time and for international help to make sure the process was credible.

In the west, the non-interference policy is seen at times as an excuse for Beijing to support unsavoury regimes. But for China, it is central to the claim that it operates differently in Africa from other great powers and in a way that avoids exploitation.

It is a strong selling point with governments – and provides a useful restraint on more adventurous parts of the Chinese party-state. “We know that it cannot be implemented in every case, but it is so useful that China will not publicly abandon it for a long time,” says one scholar at a think-tank in Beijing.

Yet Sudan is by no means the only country where China has had to become involved in domestic politics.

On a superficial level, China’s relations with Burma are a textbook example of its business-first foreign policy: Chinese companies have gained preferential access to sections of that country’s abundant resources, in return for a respite from international sanctions. A Chinese company is helping to build a hydropower dam in the north of Burma, while construction has recently started on a 1,200 mile, $2.5bn pipeline that will bring oil to China from a port on the Bay of Bengal.

Below the surface, however, China is being pulled further into Burma’s internal affairs, especially the conflict between the government in Naypyidaw and the ethnic groups that make up as much as 40 per cent of the population. Last year, as many as 30,000 refugees crossed the border into China as fighting broke out between the army and a militia in the Kokang border region of north-east Burma.

The pipeline will cross several regions dominated by ethnic groups, putting it at risk of sabotage. The Myitsone dam project is in Kachin state, one of the regions where the writ of the central government is weakest and ethnic tensions highest. Last March, several bombs exploded around the project and there were reports that several died in the blasts, including Chinese workers.

Given the strong links between different ethnic groups on either side of the China-Burma border, local officials in that region of China have played some role in mediating conflict in the past. However, the recent instability and the new investments have led Beijing to become more directly involved in Burma’s ethnic issues.

Diplomats in Beijing say leaders of the Kachin Independence Organisation visited the Chinese capital several times last year. According to a recent report by the International Crisis Group, which has done extensive interviews on both sides of the border, a Kachin leader commented: “China has to be part of the solution to Myanmar’s ethnic problem if it wants to guarantee the safety of the pipeline.” The ICG adds that Beijing has “subsequently invested considerable diplomatic resources to facilitate negotiations between the military government and the ethnic groups”.

Pakistan, where China has trumpeted heavy investments, has also provided signs that Beijing is beginning to hedge some of its strong support for the government. There have been several kidnappings of Chinese in Pakistan, including when a group of Chinese women were abducted in 2007, leading to the siege of the Red Mosque in Lahore.

Andrew Small, a China expert at the German Marshall Fund, says Beijing appears to have grown less confident that the civilian government is able to protect Chinese interests in the country: as a result, it has begun a process of outreach to religious groups in Pakistani society. Over the past three years, there have been a number of visits by leaders of religious political parties to Beijing. Last year the atheist Chinese Communist party signed a memorandum of understanding with Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan’s oldest religious party.

“The Chinese are dealing with groups that in the past they would have been uncomfortable dealing with,” he says. “But there is a feeling that these parties have better outreach to some of the more extreme groups than the government has.”

Yet it is Sudan where China is facing the sternest diplomatic test. Peaceful acceptance of the referendum outcome expected next month is only the first step. A Yes to the vote would mean both sides face tough negotiations over not only the precise position of the border but sharing oil revenues and debts – all of which could involve China in some form.

With little infrastructure in the south to speak of, the new government would also need help in the process of nation-building.

Beijing will also face the delicate issue of a proposed pipeline running from the oilfields to the Kenyan coast, which some in the south and in Kenya are pushing. China would not want to be excluded from such a project if the plans became more concrete. But it would be likely to stoke resentment in the north, which would fear being cut out of the oil wealth.

In theory, the referendum could provide an opportunity for the US and China to collaborate in order to prevent renewed civil war or the creation of a terminally weak state in the south. Washington brokered the peace deal and has close links with the SPLM. Working together with the UN and the African Union, they both have leverage to help influence a peaceful and workable separation.

But if the situation deteriorates, Sudan could also create new tensions between China and the US. American activists have been warning that if the government in the north creates problems in the wake of the referendum, the US should block oil exports from Port Sudan to punish Khartoum – shipments likely to be destined for China. One way or another, the ramifications of this month’s vote will spread well beyond Sudan.

Additional reporting by Barney Jopson


New Chinese Dam Project Fuels Ethnic Conflict in Sudan

New Chinese Dam Project Fuels Ethnic Conflict in Sudan
International Rivers
January 21, 2011

The Sudanese government has contracted Sinohydro to build the Kajbar Dam
on the third cataract of the Nile. The project would flood lands of
ancient Nubia and displace an estimated 10,000 people. With support from
International Rivers, the affected communities are calling on the
Chinese company to withdraw from the contract. They warn that if built,
the dam could unleash a second Darfur conflict.

Proposed to be built near Kajbar village in Northern Sudan, the new dam
would generate electricity at a capacity of 360 megawatts. It would also
create a reservoir of 110 square kilometers, submerge some 90 villages,
and destroy an estimated 500 archeological sites. Much of Nubia's
territory had already been lost to the reservoir of the Aswan Dam. Yet
another project, the Dal Dam, has been proposed to be built on the
Nile's second cataract. The construction of the Kajbar and Dal dams
would bring the Nubian culture, which dates back over more than 5,000
years, closer to extinction.

The affected people are strongly opposed to the construction of the
Kajbar and Dal dams. A statement of the committee of affected villages
declares: "We will never allow any force on the earth to destroy our
heritage and nation. Nubians will not sacrifice for the second time to
repeat the tragedy of the Aswan Dam."

The government never officially informed or consulted the affected
people about the projects. In April and June 2007, security forces
brutally cracked down on peaceful protests against the planned Kajbar
Dam, killing four and wounding more than 20 people. The UN Special
Rapporteur on Sudan deplored the "excessive force" and "arbitrary
arrests and prosecutions to stifle community protest against the Kajbar
dam" in a report in 2008.

The villagers just learned that the Sudanese government in October 2010
awarded a $705 million, five-year contract to build the Kajbar Dam to
the Chinese company Sinohydro. Sinoyhdro, the world's largest hydropower
contractor, was also involved in the construction of the Merowe Dam,
upstream of the proposed Kajbar site. The Merowe Dam was built in
2003-2009 under massive human rights violations.

Chinese government institutions and Sinoydro have in recent years made
repeated commitments to friendly relations with host communities in
their overseas projects. China has also voted in favor of the UN
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which gives indigenous
peoples, including the Nubians, the right to consent to projects in
their territories.

In support of the affected people of the Kajbar region, International
Rivers calls on Sinohydro to withdraw from the Kajbar project. "Building
the Kajbar Dam would make Sinohydro complicit in the government's human
rights violations, and would fly in the face of China's commitments to
improved community relations," says Peter Bosshard, policy director of
International Rivers.

A background text on the Kajbar Dam with links to all sources of
information and a map of dams in Sudan is available at

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New Chinese Dam Project Fuels Ethnic Conflict in Sudan

New Chinese Dam Project Fuels Ethnic Conflict in Sudan

By Peter Bosshard
International Rivers
January 21, 2011

Dams have impoverished tens of thousands of people and triggered serious
human rights violations in Sudan. Now Chinese companies have won
contracts to build three more hydropower projects in the country. Of
particular concerns are plans to dam the Nile near Kajbar, on the lands
of ancient Nubia. This project has already caused massive human rights
abuses. Affected people are strongly opposed to it, and have raised the
specter of a second Darfur conflict.

The Sudanese government plans to transform the Nile, the only stretch of
fertile land north of Khartoum, into a string of five reservoirs. Built
by Chinese, German and French companies, the Merowe Dam was completed
two years ago. The project doubled Sudan's electricity generation, but
displaced more than 50,000 people from the Nile Valley to arid desert
locations. Thousands of people who refused to leave their homes were
flushed out by the reservoir, and protests were violently suppressed.
The UN Rapporteur on Housing Rights expressed "deep concern" about the
human rights violations in the project, and asked the dam builders to
halt construction in 2007 - to no avail.

Next in line are the Kajbar and Dal dams. The Kajbar Dam on the Nile's
third cataract would have a height of about 20 meters, create a
reservoir of 110 square kilometers, and generate 360 megawatts of
electricity. The project would displace more than 10,000 people and
submerge an estimated 500 archeological sites. The Dal Dam on the second
cataract would have a height of 25-45 meters and a capacity of 340-450
megawatts. It would displace 5,000-10,000 people. The hydrologist Seif
al-Din Hamad Abdalla has estimated that about 2.5 cubic kilometers of
water - 3 percent of the Nile�s annual flow - would evaporate from the
two reservoirs every year.

While the Kajbar and Dal projects are smaller, the stakes are as high as
in the case of the Merowe Dam. The projects are located in Nubia, the
ancient bridge between Egypt and sub-Saharan Africa. Nubians have
developed their own language and civilization over thousands of years,
but now risk being annihilated as a nation. In the 1960s, 120,000 Nubian
people were displaced from their ancestral lands in Egypt and Sudan for
the construction of the Aswan Dam. Within Sudan, they were moved to an
irrigation scheme 700 kilometers away, which turned into a complete
development disaster. "By flooding the last of the remaining Nubian
lands," warns Arif Gamal, who was displaced by the Aswan Dam, "the
Nubians are reduced to a group of people with no sense of memory, no
past and no future to look for."

The people from the Kajbar and Dal areas watched the fate of their
neighbors in the Nile Valley, and knew that the government would not
make any concessions when dealing with Nubians. They formed a committee
to protect their interests, and opposed the dams from the very
beginning. In December 2010, they warned: "We will never allow any force
on the earth to blur our identity and destroy our heritage and nation.
Nubians will never play the role of victims, and will never sacrifice
for the second time to repeat the tragedy of (the Aswan Dam)." A
spokesperson called the Kajbar Project a "humanitarian disaster" which
the affected people would resist by all means, including armed
opposition. The Los Angeles Times reported "fears of another Darfur" if
the Kajbar Dam was built.

Chinese companies have expressed an interest in the Kajbar Project since
1997. When Sudanese and Chinese engineers carried out feasibility
studies in 2007, thousands of people staged repeated protest
demonstrations. The authorities cracked down harshly. In April 2007,
security forces shot and wounded at least five protestors. On June 13,
2007, security officers killed four peaceful protesters in an ambush and
wounded more than 15 others. The government arrested some 26 people,
including journalists who tried to cover the massacre, and detained them
for several weeks. The UN Special Rapporteur on Sudan deplored the
"excessive force" and "arbitrary arrests and prosecutions to stifle
community protest against the Kajbar dam" in a report.

For years the government did not disclose whether it would actually move
forward with the Kajbar and Dal projects. In April 2010, it awarded a
$838 million contract for the Upper Atbara Project, an irrigation and
hydropower complex in Eastern Sudan, to a Chinese consortium. Two months
later, China's Gezhouba Corporation got a contract to build the Shereik
Dam, a 420 megawatt project on the Nile, at a cost of $711 million. The
Shereik Dam in particular would create a big reservoir and affect a
large number of people.

Abdeen Mustafa Omer, a renewable energy expert at the University of
Nottingham, has documented a very large solar energy potential for
Sudan, and a big wind energy potential particularly in the lower Nile
valley. These technologies could generate electricity without the
destruction and conflict that the Kajbar and other dams would cause. Yet
the Sudanese government does not promote them.

While the government remained silent about its plans, Sinohydro, the
world's largest hydropower company, announced on October 28, 2010, that
it had won a $705 million contract to build the Kajbar Project over five
years. At the end of December, 59 Sinohydro workers left from China for
Sudan. At the same time, Sinohydro advertised jobs for work on the
Kajbar Dam in Pakistan. (In the case of the Bui Dam in Ghana, the
company hired 60 of its 600 foreign workers in Pakistan, reportedly
because they were cheaper than Chinese labor.)

Since 2006, Chinese authorities have made increasing efforts to promote
good community relations in overseas projects. The State Council and
other government institutions have all called for the establishment of
good community relations in Chinese investments. Sinohydro is currently
preparing its own social and environmental guideline for overseas
projects. Building the Kajbar Dam with a government that brutally
represses the rights of the host population would fly in the face of
such commitments.

In 2007, China (along with the majority of member states) voted in favor
of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the UN. This
document stipulates that indigenous peoples have the right of consent
regarding "any project affecting their lands." The Kajbar Dam, which is
strongly opposed by the indigenous Nubian population, violates the UN

Sooner or later, companies which engage in projects that violate human
rights will be held to account. PetroChina hoped to raise $10 billion
when it listed at the New York stock exchange in 2000, but could raise
less than $3 billion because of the operations of its parents company in
Sudan. A German organization recently filed a criminal complaint against
managers of Lahmeyer International, alleging their complicity in the
human rights abuses of the Merowe Dam. Federal and state laws will
prevent the French company Alstom from getting lucrative government
contracts in the US because of its active role in the same project.

The Kajbar Project is still at a very early stage. Sinohydro and other
companies can still learn the lessons of earlier human rights disasters
in Sudan. They should heed the warnings of the affected communities and
stay out of the Kajbar Dam. International Rivers has been engaged in a
dialogue with Sinohydro since 2009, and will strongly support the
interests of the people affected by the project.

For an illustrated version of this commentary with a map and links to
all sources, see For a press
release on the topic, please visit

This is International Rivers' mailing list on China's global footprint, and particularly Chinese investment in
international dam projects.

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Executive Director position at International Rivers

Dear all,


International Rivers is looking for a visionary leader familiar with international human rights and environmental advocacy and committed to promoting sustainable water and energy solutions. Our ideal candidate would possess extensive leadership and management experience, have a strong fundraising track record and have excellent communication skills.


Thank you to those who have already circulated this job posting. If you have not had a chance to circulate this yet to your networks, please find the full job description attached. We appreciate your support!

In addition, if you have any suggestions or questions, please write to We will keep all the feedback and ideas you send us strictly confidential.


Best wishes,

Katy Yan

Program Associate

Job Posting:


Executive Director

International Rivers

Berkeley, CA


International Rivers seeks a passionate, proven and creative Executive Director to lead the world's pre-eminent river basin advocacy organization.


Celebrating its 25th year, International Rivers is the leading international advocacy organization working to defend healthy rivers and the rights and livelihoods of the communities that depend on them. We oppose destructive large dams and the development model they advance, and encourage better ways of meeting people's needs for water, energy and protection from damaging floods.


With an international team of 26 staff in the US, Africa, Asia and South America, International Rivers' new Executive Director will be responsible for developing the vision, strategy, tactics and capacity of International Rivers; raising the funds necessary to carry out our mission; developing and maintaining relationships with the organization's many international partner organizations; building effective teams across our culturally and geographically diverse staff; and launching new initiatives that further our mission.


The position is located in Berkeley, CA, USA.


The full job description can be found at


Salary will be commensurate with experience; excellent benefits.  International Rivers is an Equal Opportunity Employer.


Position open until filled. A letter of interest, date of availability, salary requirements, resume and a writing sample should be sent via email to:

West Africa's First Solar Panel Production Facility

West Africa's First Solar Panel Production Facility

by Energy Matters

Senegalese solar power company SPEC is establishing the first solar
panel production line in West Africa, with the support of overseas
technology partners.

Africa is a sun-drenched continent with a massive number of people who
do not have access to mains grid electricity. The situation offers a
home-grown solar industry an excellent opportunity to provide clean,
renewable energy and generate green jobs for the region.

SPEC, supported by Swiss company 3S Modultec, will be installing West
Africa's first integrated solar module production line in the next
couple of weeks, with view to producing solar panels by June of this

The panels will be certified by the German agency T�V Rhineland and
distributed in local markets.

The 15MW solar panel production line can be expanded to 25 MW and has
been matched to local requirements, combining automated and semi-
automatic production stages. Experts from 3S will be assisting the
local SPEC team on-site and monitoring the project throughout the
planning, ramp-up, production launch and certification stages.

SPEC is no stranger to the solar power industry, having a technology
and innovation centre specialising in solar energy for the development
of major projects.

3S Modultec is a subsidiary of Meyer Burger Technology AG and
manufactures integrated module production lines up to 130MW, offering
a cycle time of as little as 45 seconds per module. 3S Modultec merged
with Meyer Burger Technology AG, Baar last year, forming what it
says was the first global technology group in photovoltaics that
covers all critical technologies in the entire value chain, from
silicon to solar panel.

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Engineer's emails implicate dam in Brisbane flood

Engineer's emails reveal Wivenhoe Dam releases too little, too late to
help Brisbane

* By Hedley Thomas
* From: The Australian
* January 21, 2011 2:13AM

* Emails became increasingly urgent
* Inquiry to examine operators acts
* Water may have been held back too long

LEAKED email communications from a Wivenhoe Dam engineering officer
underline concerns that the Brisbane River flood was mostly caused by
massive releases from the dam after it had held on to water too long
over a crucial 72 hours before the severe rainfall that hit the region
last week.

The emails, which become increasingly urgent in tone as the situation
became critical as the dam's levels rise rapidly, were provided to The
Australian by a source who said the stream of data had convinced him
the river flood of Brisbane could have been largely avoided if the
dam's operators had taken action much earlier, reported The Australian.

A commission of inquiry will examine whether the dam's operators erred
in permitting the dam's flood compartment to be severely limited for a
major rainfall event because of their strategy to let the dam's levels
rise over the weekend of January 8-9.

Start of sidebar. Skip to end of sidebar.
Related Coverage

* Fireworks off: Brisbane flood

* Dams manual made public Courier Mail, 2 hours ago
* Manual for Brisbane dams released The Daily Telegraph, 3 hours
* Engineer warned of dam danger Perth Now, 18 hours ago
* Wivenhoe Dam closes floodgates - for now, 1 day ago
* Save or spill conflict for dam bosses The Australian, 2 days ago

End of sidebar. Return to start of sidebar.

According to figures from Wivenhoe's operator, SEQWater, the dam's
capacity went from 106 per cent full on the morning of Friday, January
7, to 148 per cent full on the morning of Monday, January 10, due to
the limited weekend releases. Experts have said this severely
compromised the dam's ability to store additional runoff.

By Monday morning the dam was at 100 per cent capacity for its supply
of water for urban use, holding 1,150,000 megalitres. In addition its
flood compartment, with a capacity of 1,450,000ML, was almost half full.

The dam reached about 190 per cent capacity by Tuesday, when its
operators made huge and unprecedented releases to prevent the system
from collapse.

The emails from engineering officer Graham Keegan, of SEQWater, which
operates the Queensland government-owned dam, were sent to notify
stakeholders about dam strategies, including release rates and likely
impacts. Mr Keegan, who was receiving advice from the Flood Operations
Centre at the dam, advises in an early email at 8.26pm on Saturday,
January 8, that the releases of water that night were 1250 cubic
metres per second (cumecs) and were to be kept to a "maximum of 1600"
at mid-Brisbane River.

The same email notes awareness of the worsening weather: "Forecast for
the next 4 days is for significant rainfall across SE QLD. Possible
scenarios include a reduction in release rate to accommodate potential
flooding in the Bremer River; however they also include larger
releases from Wivenhoe Dam if heavy rainfall strikes our catchments.
Releases may then extend to the week-end or later." By 8.30pm on
Sunday, Mr Keegan's email alert advises the plan is to keep releases
from the dam to 1400 cumecs "for the next 24 hours if possible".

To read more about the leaked dam emails visit The Australian.

Read more:

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

BP: Renewable energy will outpace oil growth in 2030

BP: Renewable energy will outpace oil growth in 2030
07:58 AM

By Wendy Koch, USA TODAY

Turbines of Dingbian Fanshigou wind power plant stand Nov. 26 against
the sunset in Yulin, northwest China's Shaanxi Province. Energy giant
BP projects that renewable sources will grow at a quicker rate than
will oil by 2030.

Renewable power sources will outpace oil as global energy demand
surges nearly 40% in the next 20 years, according to an industry
forecast released Wednesday by energy giant BP.

Most of the expected increased in energy demand will come from
emerging economies such as China, India, Russia and Brazil, according
to "BP Energy Outlook 2030." Such non-OECD countries (Organization of
Economic Co-operation and Development), which will account for 93% of
the demand growth, will boost their share of demand from just over
half currently to two-thirds.

At the same time, energy efficiency and diversification will increase.
From 2010 to 2030, the report says, renewable energy sources (solar,
wind, geothermal and biofuels) will increase their contribution to
energy growth from 5% to 18%. In contrast, coal and oil are likely to
lose market share and natural gas is projected to be the fastest
growing fossil fuel.

The analysis is the first that BP, criticized for its key role in the
massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill last year, has published, although
the company says it has produced 60 years of historical data in its
own BP Statistical Review of World Energy.

* Follow Green House on Twitter

"One of our responsibilities is to share the information we have, to
inform the debate on energy and now on climate change," said BP's new
CEO Bob Dudley, who is trying to burnish the company's reputation. "We
are not as optimistic as others about progress in reducing carbon
emissions," he said in announcing the report, which estimates global
greenhouse gas emissions will peak just after 2020 but will still be
20% above 2005 levels. "For me personally," Dudley said, "it is a wake-
up call."

Here are report highlights:

--BP's 'base case' projections are that world primary energy
demand growth averages 1.7% per year from 2010 to 2030 although growth
decelerates slightly beyond 2020.... Toward the end of the period,
coal demand in China will no longer be rising and China is projected
to become the world's largest oil consumer.

--OPEC's share of global oil production is set to increase to
46%, a position not seen since 1977. At the same time, oil - and gas -
import dependency in the US is likely to fall to levels not seen since
the 1990s, because of improved fuel efficiency and the increased share
of biofuels.

--Oil, excluding bio-fuels, will grow relatively slowly at 0.6%
per year; natural gas is the fastest growing fossil fuel with more
than three times the projected growth rate of oil at 2.1% per year.
Coal will increase by 1.2% per year and by 2030 it is likely to
provide virtually as much energy as oil excluding biofuels.

--Wind, solar, bio-fuels and other renewables continue to grow
strongly, increasing their share in primary energy from less than 2%
now to more than 6% projected by 2030. Biofuels will provide 9% of
transport fuels and nuclear and hydropower will grow steadily and gain
market share in total energy consumption.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

China banks lend more than World Bank - report

BBC, 18 January 2011
China banks lend more than World Bank - report
By Chris Hogg, BBC News, Shanghai, China

Two Chinese state controlled banks have lent more to developing
countries than the World Bank, according to a report.

The China Development Bank and the China Export Import Bank offered
loans of at least $110 bn (�69.2 bn) to governments and firms in
developing countries in 2009 and 2010.

The research was undertaken by the Financial Times newspaper.

Between mid-2008 and mid-2010, the World Bank's lending arm issued loans
of just over $100bn (�63bn).

The two Chinese banks do not publish a detailed breakdown of their
overseas loans, so this research is based on public announcements about
specific deals from them, their borrowers or the Chinese government.

That means the figure arrived at for the amount of Chinese lending is
more likely an underestimate than an overestimate because some - more
sensitive - loans will not have been made public.

The Chinese lenders are so-called policy banks - they have a mandate to
further whatever Beijing sees as its national interest.

One of China Development Bank's specific tasks is to try to alleviate
and, where possible, eliminate bottlenecks in supplies of raw materials
or land for China's economy.

It also tries to open up foreign markets for Chinese companies.

The period looked at by the researchers included the worst of the global
financial crisis.

Chinese banks were offering loans to producers of raw materials at a
time when it was hard for them to attract financing from elsewhere.

That helped secure long-term energy deals, including oil supplies from
Russia, Venezuela and Brazil.

The Chinese government, which is sitting on $2 trillion (�1.26 trillion)
of foreign exchange reserves, has ample amounts of cash to fund loans
which help promote its strategic objectives.

But what is interesting is that in the private sector, it is a different

Outward Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) by Chinese companies (not
including banks) was around $50bn (�31.5bn) last year - around half the
FDI that flowed from foreign companies into China.

This is the world's second-largest economy but its outward flow of FDI
is just the fifth largest in the world.

That suggests that Chinese companies still do not have the confidence to
make big acquisitions overseas in order to grow, or of course that they
are unable to.

What does not help is the sometimes murky relationship between the
government and some of the country's biggest firms which can make the
targets of such acquisitions or potential merger partners nervous about
doing deals with the Chinese.

This is International Rivers' mailing list on China's global footprint, and particularly Chinese investment in
international dam projects.

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Last refuge of rare fish threatened by Yangtze dam plans

Last refuge of rare fish threatened by Yangtze dam plans
Developers of hydroelectric plant have redrawn the boundaries of a
crucial freshwater reserve for rare and economically important species
Jonathan Watts, Asia environment correspondent
The Guardian, January 18, 2011

The last refuge for many of China's rarest and most economically
important wild fish has mere days to secure public support before it is
trimmed, dammed and ruinously diminished, conservationists warned today.
The alarm was raised after the authorities in Chongqing quietly moved to
redraw the boundaries of a crucial freshwater reserve on the Yangtze,
which was supposed to have been the bottom line for nature conservation
in one of the world's most important centres of biodiversity.
The Upper Yangtze Rare and Endemic Fish Nature Reserve was created in
the 1990s as a haven for species that were threatened by the Three
Gorges dam, the world's biggest hydroelectric plant.
Among the hundreds of species it protects are four types of wild carp
that experts say are essential to China's food security because they
provide the diverse genetic stock on which fish farms depend for healthy
In recent years, the importance of this 400km-long ecological hold-out
has increased as China's hunger for energy has driven power companies to
build two more mega-dams � Xiangjiaba and Xiluodu � that have swamped
the shoals and stilled the rapids along thousands of kilometres of
Asia's biggest river.
Downstream, the combination of dams, pollution, overfishing and river
traffic have decimated fish stocks, wiped out at least one species � the
Baiji or Yangtze river dolphin � and left others � like the giant
Yangtze sturgeon (Acipenser dabryanus), the Chinese paddlefish or the
finless porpoise � critically endangered.
Upriver, the state has promised to safeguard the last untamed stretch. A
coalition of scientists and conservationists has opposed development in
the reserve. Premier Wen Jiabao has expressed unease about the impact of
excess dam-building on environmentally important areas.
But this goal has run up against the interests of the Three Gorges
Project Development Corporation and local officials, who want to build
yet another hydroelectric plant at Xiaonanhai that would choke the river
to power the development of the poor local economy.
The developers appear to have gained the upper hand last week when the
Ministry of Environmental Protection announced plans to redraw the
boundary of the reserve so that it would no longer encompass the area of
the proposed dam. This leaves less than 10 days for public discussion,
according to conservationists who are dismayed there has been almost no
domestic coverage, partly because many of the 29 endangered fish species
� such as Chinese paddle, Yangtze sturgeon and Chinese sucker � are
unknown outside of expert circles.
"This is the last hold-out for much of China's freshwater biodiversity.
It is a rare situation when one project can do so much damage," said Ma
Jun of the Institute for Public and Environmental Affairs, one of the
country's leading green campaign groups. "Part of the problem is that
unlike pandas, snub-nosed monkeys or Tibetan antelopes, most people have
not heard of or seen the fish affected."
Local government insists no decision has been made on the dam, but past
precedent suggests that construction will begin before the formal
environmental impact assessment is made, by which time developers will
argue that it would be a huge waste of money to cancel.
Less often calculated is the economic loss of biodiversity. With fewer
wild carp to bolster farm stocks, environmental experts say China is
taking a risk with a primary source of protein. Since the Three Gorges
was built, the downstream carp population has crashed by 90%, according
to Guo Qiaoyu, Yangtze River project manager at The Nature Conservancy.
"This is economically important. We eat a lot of these fish. We need to
help people realise its important to protect fish reserves and not just
tap the power of the river," said Guo. "If we lose this reserve, the
wild population will almost be wiped out.
It is rare for the Nature Conservancy to oppose dam construction, which
they accept as important to China's development. But the US-based NGO
has sent a letter to the government, urging full protection of the
Yangtze reserve, which looks set to be a test case of the authorities'
willingness to conserve.
"I feel very frustrated. This reserve was first set up as a compensation
for the Three Gorges Dam. And then for other dams on the Jingsha
cascade," said Guo. "If you change this reserve again to make way for
another dam, it shows that we don't have a baseline for conservation,
that anything can be overridden in the interests of economic
development. It sets a terrible precedent."

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SA saves 1 800 MW through energy efficient lighting – Eskom

SA saves 1 800 MW through energy efficient lighting � Eskom

By: Petronel Smit
17th January 2011

South Africa has saved 1 800 MW of electricity � enough to power a
city the size of Durban � through retrofitting power-guzzling
incandescent bulbs with energy savers, power utility Eskom said on

About 43,5-million compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) were rolled out in
South Africa without cost to customers between 2004 and 2010, as part
of Eskom�s efficient lighting programme.

This was the highest number of CFLs to be rolled out in the world in
one country through a single campaign. Mexico was planning to roll out
30-million CFLs, which would place them second to South Africa.

CFLs, miniature versions of full-sized tubular fluorescents, use up to
80% less electricity than a traditional incandescent light bulb, while
providing the same amount of light.

�The electricity saved as a result of the marked reduction in
consumption by lighting in homes and buildings across the country
brings us closer to achieving our energy savings targets,� Eskom
general manager of integrated demand management Andrew Etzinger said.

He added that the barriers discouraging the widespread use of CFLs had
been overcome in over the past six years.

The growing demand for CFLs resulted in prices decreasing from between
R60 and R80 for a single bulb in 2004, to about R15 currently.

CFL designs have also come a long way, with bayonette and screw-in
fittings now standard for CFLs, making them suitable for most lighting
applications where incandescent bulbs are used.

�Now that it is more affordable, easily accessible and can be used in
almost any setting, the adoption of CFLs is really starting to gather
momentum locally, as it is elsewhere in the world,� he added.

Eskom said that the gap between electricity supply and demand would
remain tight until the first unit of the Medupi power station, in
Lephalale, starts generating power in 2012.

Edited by: Mariaan Webb

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Monday, January 17, 2011

A new era for Tibet’s rivers

A new era for Tibet�s rivers
Jiang Yannan and He Haining
China Dialogue, January 17, 2011

Construction of a massive dam on the Yarlung Zangbo marks a turning
point for Tibet, write He Haining and Jiang Yannan. A development boom
is coming.

The rushing waters of the Yarlung Zangbo, the last of China�s great
rivers to remain undammed, will soon be history. On November 12 last
year, the builders of the Zangmu Hydropower Station announced the
successful damming of the river � the first public announcement on a
matter that, until now, has been kept under wraps.

The Zangmu hydroelectric power station is being built on the middle
reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo (known as the Brahmaputra when it reaches
India) between the counties of Sangri and Gyaca. Around 7.9 billion yuan
(US$1.2 billion) is being invested in the project, located in a V-shaped
valley 3,200 metres above sea level. At 510 megawatts, the plant is much
smaller than China�s 18,000-megawatt Three Gorges Dam, but still
equivalent to the entire existing hydropower-generating capacity of Tibet.

The construction workers have now reached the centre of the river. The
water is being diverted into sluiceways and rows of grouting machines
and stone crushers are working at full pace, while trucks come and go.
One worker said that the winter here is mild, so there�ll be no need to
stop work. Geologist Yang Yong said the activity represents the start of
a new age: �Hydropower development on the Yarlung has begun, marking the
start of a hydropower era for Tibet�s rivers.�

A series of hydropower stations is proposed for the Yarlung Zangbo. If
they are all built, Zangmu will be the fourth in a row of five on the
Sangri to Gyaca stretch of the river, between the Gyaca and Jiexu
plants. There has been no official confirmation that the construction of
these will go ahead. But Yan Zhiyong, general manager of China
Hydropower Engineering Consulting, said in a recent media interview: �By
about 2020 most of China�s hydropower projects outside of Tibet will
have been completed, and the industry�s focus will shift to the Jinsha,
Lancang, the upper reaches of the Nu River and the Yarlung.�

Several well-known Chinese hydropower firms have already made their way
into Tibet. The backer of the Zangmu project, the Tibet Generating
Company, has already built a residential area on the open spaces
alongside the river at Zangmu and a flourishing town is taking shape,
with a supermarket better-stocked than those in the county�s main town.
The boss, from Zhejiang, moved here from the Xiaowan dam in Yunnan,
south-west China, two months ago and is positive about the future:
�There�ll be loads of workers next year, business will be great.�

The Zangmu dam is located in the southern Tibetan county of Gyaca, which
has a population of around 17,000. �The economy here is going to be
among the fastest-growing in Tibet,� said businessman Li Hua, who has
already invested in a three-star hotel here � a five-storey building
that is now the tallest in the area.

Work on a highway to the administrative centre of Lhoka prefecture is to
start in 2011, cutting travel time in half. �Hydropower development will
very quickly spur mining, and there�ll also be very rapid growth in road
and railways. The Tibetan hinterland will see a new development boom,�
predicted Yang Yong.

Guan Zhihua is a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences�
Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research. In 1972
the academy established a survey team to study the Qinghai-Tibetan
Plateau, and Guan � now in his seventies � was the head of the group
charged with calculating the hydropower potential of the Yarlung Zangbo,
China�s highest river. As if describing a family heirloom, he said: �The
river flows for 2,057 kilometres within China�s borders, and its
hydropower potential is second only to the Yangtze. It has more
power-generating potential per unit of length than any other river in

Guan�s was the first comprehensive and systematic study of the plateau �
a four year field project carried out by more than 400 people across 50
different disciplines. But the study of the Yarlung Zangbo and its
tributaries was only a part of the survey, and at the time nobody had
any idea of the extent of the river�s potential. The entire basin was
found to have hydropower potential of 114 gigawatts � 79 of which was on
the main river. And this potential was highly concentrated, with the
possibility of a 38-gigawatt hydropower facility at the Great Bend in
Medog county, equal in power to the Three Gorges Dam.

In 1980, a nationwide survey of hydropower resources was carried out and
12 possible dam locations identified on the Yarlung Zangbo. �This would
have been the first hydropower plan for the Yarlung,� recalled Guan.

In the 1980s, Tibet twice planned to dam the Yarlung Zangbo, but in
neither case did the project get off the ground

Zhang Jinling, a 76-year old retiree from the Tibet Surveying Institute,
recalled the first bid to build a dam here: �In the 1980s, Shigatse [a
city in southern Tibet] wanted to build a hydropower station at
Jiangdang and that would have been the first attempt to dam the river.�
But there were concerns: this part of the river carries a lot of silt
and the project would have required swaths of land to be inundated and
many people to be relocated � and the dam would only generate 50
megawatts of power. The plan was submitted to Beijing, but was not approved.

On another occasion, plans were drawn up to dam the river outside Lhasa.
Zhang�s team carried out preliminary surveys, drilling rock samples out
of the mountainsides to acquire geological data. But a large reshuffle
of officials in both 1981 and 1982 saw the team lose two-thirds of its
manpower. Plans were shelved.

Those plans were spurred by a shortage of electricity in Tibet. Zhang
recalled that the Tibetan government was seeking a quick way of
providing power by any means � diesel-fired and geothermal power
generation were also used.

During the 1980s, Lhasa, with 120,000 residents, only had 20 or 30
megawatts of power-generating capacity, mostly provided by several
hydropower stations each providing a few megawatts. In winter there was
no choice but to rotate power supplies to different areas of the city,
with those cut off using kerosene for heating.

When Zhang retired in 1995, the electricity grid in eastern Tibet was
just beginning to take shape, but it has remained isolated from the
national grid. A connection between Tibet and Qinghai is due to be
completed in 2012, which will relieve the electricity shortages Tibet
suffers in winter and spring.

�It wouldn't have been possible to build a large dam on the Yarlung
before the Qinghai-Tibet railway was completed � you need a rail line to
move the building materials,� said He Xiwu, who was head of the survey
team�s water-resources group at the time.

In 1994, work started on the Three Gorges Dam, but plans for the Yarlung
Zangbo were kept quiet. The low-key approach was unusual given the
river�s huge potential. Even recently, a water-resources official with
the Tibetan government stressed that developing hydropower in Tibet was
mostly about self-sufficiency.

Since the early 1990s, Tibet has built a series of medium-sized
hydropower stations, of about 10 megawatts each, such as the
pumped-storage hydropower station at Yamdrok Lake and the dam at
Zhikong. These are intended to relieve electricity shortages in the
Lhasa area.

Although government work reports mention it every year, hydropower
development on the Yarlung Zangbo was never made a priority. But in the
final years of the 11th Five Year Plan, things changed. �The current
proposal is an appropriate degree of industrialisation, with a process
of capacity building, then focusing on priorities, and then overall
development,� said He Gang, research fellow at the Tibet Academy of
Social Sciences� Institute of Economic Strategy. �The priorities most
often proposed are mining and hydropower.�

Behind the scenes, preparations for hydropower development on the
Yarlung Zangbo have been constant. In a recent media interview, Zhi
Xiaoqian, head of the Chengdu Surveying Institute, said that plans had
been drawn up for all of Tibet�s major rivers, including the middle
reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo. But a lack of clear policy direction has
meant approval for those plans has been slow and the projects have not
commenced. �Now the time and conditions are ripe. China�s energy supply
is becoming ever more pressured, and there�s an urgent need to develop
the rich hydropower resources of Tibet,� Zhi said.

Currently less than 0.6% of Tibet�s hydropower resources have been
developed. In comparison with the rest of China, this is virgin territory.

The Zangmu Hydropower Station is only the start. The huge potential of
the Yarlung Zangbo is concentrated at the Great Bend in Medog county,
where two or more dams the size of the Three Gorges could be built. This
is also the most spectacular section of the river, where it falls
steeply as it makes a u-turn, and is regarded as one of the world�s most
striking river sections.

As early as 1998, Chen Chuanyou of the Institute of Geographic Sciences
and Natural Resources Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences
published an article in Guangming Daily entitled �Could the world�s
biggest hydropower station be built in Tibet?� He proposed building a
reservoir on the middle reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo to raise the water
level, and then drilling a 16-kilometre tunnel to carry the water to its
tributary, the Duoxiong � a drop of 2,300 metres that would allow for
three hydropower stations. For the sake of safety and the environment,
they could be built underground, he said.

In 2002, Chen published another paper in Engineering Sciences, looking
at the positive impact that a hydropower station at the Great Bend would
have on electricity generation in south-east Asia, and pointing out
that, if there were financial issues, funds could be raised both
domestically and abroad, and that electricity could be exported to
south-east Asia.

He Xiwu said: �I�ve heard there is still no plan for the Great Bend. The
state should spend a bit every year on long-term research. There�s
38-gigawatts of potential there, but the geology is complicated and
construction would be difficult. It has to be done carefully.�

�Hydropower development in Tibet has come late, but it is on the agenda
now,� said Fan Xiao, chief engineer for the regional geological survey
team at the Sichuan Bureau of Geological Exploration. What worries Fan,
however, is this: �Tibet�s ecology is extremely vulnerable, and would be
very hard to restore if damaged. This kind of full-river development
can�t just see the Yarlung Zangbo as a hydropower resource � everything
needs to be taken into consideration.�

This article was first published by Southern Weekend. He Haining is a
reporter and Jiang Yannan an intern at Southern Weekend. Feng Jie, also
a reporter, contributed to this article.

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