Vaclav Smil, Ph.D. “Damming the three Gorges”. Missing Energy Perspectives, Chapter 9. Retrieved 2.08.08 – “Rural Energy Crisis The Three Gorges Project is part of China’s energy policy which stresses large centralized energy supply projects for electricity generation. Such investments neglect the basic energy needs of nearly three-quarters of China’s population living in villages and small towns. Almost half of the rural population is without electricity; roughly half of rural households experience severe shortages of biomass fuel (straw, wood, shrubs, and grasses) for everyday cooking.*
To date, widespread construction of small hydrostations has been the most successful means of expanding China’s rural electricity supply since most of these locales could never be linked to centralized electrical grids from giant dams, such as the proposed Three Gorges Project, because of high cost or difficult access. More than 70,000 rural stations with a total capacity of nearly 10 GW have been installed. More than three-quarters of China’s 2,133 counties have small hydrostations and about one-third of these counties rely on them for most of their electricity.
Although experience has proven that small-scale hydro is not without technical and environmental problems – such as poor design and sizing, unreliable equipment, and excessive sedimentation – these problems are much more easily managed than problems arising from giant projects.”