Alstom boosts hydro power investment in China
By Liu Yiyu in Tianjin
August 2, 2012
Alstom, the world's third-largest power equipment maker, is boosting its
investment in hydro power in China, as other renewable energy sectors
such as wind and solar energy face a slowdown.
Alstom Renewable Power, Alstom's division in charge of renewable power
generation equipment and services, plans to establish a Global
Technology Center in Tianjin, as part of a 100 million euro ($123
million) investment to upgrade Tianjin's hydro industrial facility - the
largest such plant that Alstom has in operation.
"Compared with other renewables, hydro power is very stable," said
Jerome Pecresse, president of Alstom Renewable Power.
And as the renewable sector - including wind and solar - develops, the
demand for pumped-storage plants will also increase, according to Pecresse.
Alstom is one of China's leading hydro producers. The company has
contracts for hydro turbines and generators covering about 47 gigawatts,
out of which about 50 percent are already in commercial operation.
Alstom was also involved in the construction of the Three Gorges Dam,
the world's largest power plant of any kind, to which it supplied 14 of
the dam's 32 units, each with an output of 700 megawatts.
"International hydro power companies are setting up their research and
development centers in China to grab more market share, leading to
fierce competition as well as more mergers and acquisitions," said Zhou
Xiujie, an industry analyst with China Investment Consulting.
According to the China Electricity Council, the country's hydro power
investment reached 44.4 billion yuan ($7 billion) in the first five
months of the year, up nearly 50 percent year-on-year.
With a temporary slowdown in the construction of nuclear plants after
the Fukushima disaster in Japan, the Chinese government is pushing ahead
with all forms of renewable energy: solar, wind, bio-energy, geothermal
However, the development of wind and solar energy is slowing down.
Authorities began tightening approval for wind power projects last year
after a significant amount of wind resources were wasted because the
grid was not capable of carrying or sending out the electricity.
Despite the government's ambitious push, the solar market in China is
still very small, with less than 3 gW installed at the end of 2011.
In comparison, hydro power makes up 22 percent of the country's
installed power base, with many large hydroelectric projects either in
the planning stage or under construction. The country's hydro market is
booming, with installed capacity for hydropower increasing by 15 gW
every year, and expected to reach 380 gW by 2020 from just under 200 gW
China plans to get 11.4 percent of its energy from renewable sources by
2015, of which hydro power will contribute two-thirds, analysts said.
In the first half of the year, the central government has approved six
major dam projects totaling 8.8 gW, with another 10 gW in the pipeline
by the end of the year, according to the National Development and Reform
China's hydropower capacity stood at 230 gW at the end of 2011, 22
percent of the total, and another 55 gW are now under construction,
according to figures released by the National Energy Administration.
The country's hydro power market slowed down during the 11th Five Year
Plan period (2006-10) partly due to controversy about its environmental
impact. However, new approvals accelerated since 2010 when the reduction
of carbon emissions was at the top of the government's agenda.
Meanwhile, the slowing economy may pose some challenges for hydro power
development as demand for electricity is cooling down.
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