Projects Run-of-river hydropower
Rural China grouped small hydro
The Rural China Grouped Small Hydro Project consists of a group of 95 small-scale hydropower plants which generate clean renewable electricity across rural south western China. The project earns one carbon credit for every tonne of greenhouse gas emissions it prevents by generating hydroelectric power rather than burning coal.
The project is unique as it is made up of 95 small individual power plants which use the flow of rivers to generate clean electricity. The hydropower plants are spread across four provinces, in some of the most disadvantaged and least developed areas of China. 67 of them are located in Chongqing Municipality, 9 in Yunnan Province, 13 in Sichuan Province and 6 in Guizhou Province. Many of the projects are located in remote mountain regions, isolated from the rest of China. These areas are home to diverse ethnic minority groups, each with their own culture and traditions.
The hydropower plants improve the livelihoods of these ethnic communities. The plants are all small-scale, ranging in size from 0.1 to 10 MW capacity. They all use a 'run-of-river' design, which means they are able to utilise the power of the rivers with no significant environmental or social impacts. The plants supply renewable electricity to the Southern and Central China Power Grids, which are heavily reliant on power from burning coal.
This project helps meet China's growing demand for power with clean, renewable energy. Combined the hydropower plants prevent approximately 770,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere each year. The cost of building small-scale hydropower plants in remote locations is a significant barrier to their construction. These projects would not have been financially viable without the extra revenues from carbon credits.
Benefits Beyond Carbon Reduction
The Rural China Grouped Small Hydro Project contributes to sustainable development across the four provinces. Providing a more stable electricity supply to people in rural areas prevents deforestation as less firewood is needed for energy. The 95 projects have created jobs for local people and provided on the job training to increase local skills. During the construction of the plants the developers upgraded community infrastructure, including building or improving access roads, which are particularly valuable to people living in these remote areas.
The project has been certified under the SOCIALCARBON® Standard which provides a high level of assurance of its positive social and environmental benefits and sets targets for ongoing improvements over time. This was the first SOCIALCARBON® project to be accredited outside of Brazil. As part of the SOCIALCARBON® accreditation process, some of the ongoing revenues from sales of carbon credits are used to fund social initiatives in the project areas. These are identified and implemented in collaboration with local communities and NGO's. For example, in the Lishadi region there is an agricultural education program teaching local people about growing fruit trees. Other initiatives funded by the projects include installing composting toilets and education programs for children. The project also includes a disaster relief fund to provide assistance from natural disasters such as landslides.