Ecological Footprint of Hydropower Development in China and the Associated Reductions of Greenhouse Gas Emission

  • 1 Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China

Received date: 2013-05-16

  Revised date: 2013-09-19

  Online published: 2013-12-20

Supported by

the Key Project for the Strategic Science Plan in Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences (No: 2012ZD007), and National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41371486).


Hydropower, next to coal, is the second most important source of electric power supply in China. It amounted to 20.4% of the nation's total installed capacity of electricity generation in 2011. To provide a comprehensive picture of the development of hydropower in China and its potential environmental impacts, this study calculates the ecological footprint and greenhouse gas emission reduction of hydropower development in China over the past 60 years. The ecological footprints include the energy ecological footprint and arable land occupation footprint. The energy ecological footprint is calculated in terms of the area of the land which would be used for reforestation in order to assimilate CO2 emissions from fossil energy consumption for hydropower development. The arable land occupation footprint is calculated in terms of the area of the land to be inundated by hydropower development. The calculated energy ecological footprint was 502 422 ha in 2010 or about 0.3% of total arable land in China and the calculated inundated land was about 1.42×106 ha or about 1.2% of total arable land in China. The regional power grid baseline method was used to calculate the greenhouse gas emission reduction. Results indicated that CO2 emission reduction from hydropower development was increasing rapidly since 1949 and reached 5.02×108 tons of CO2 emission in 2010, with an accumulative total of 6.221×109 tons of CO2 emission during the period 1949-2010.

Cite this article

LU Chunxia, MA Cong, ZHANG Yushu, XU Zengrang . Ecological Footprint of Hydropower Development in China and the Associated Reductions of Greenhouse Gas Emission[J]. Journal of Resources and Ecology, 2013 , 4(4) : 369 -373 . DOI: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764x.2013.04.010


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