China said Wednesday that small hydropower stations, defined as those with an installed capacity of less than 50,000 kilowatts, numbered nearly 50,000 at the end of 2008.
That number represented one third of the country's installed hydropower capacity, according to Tian Zhongxing, head of the rural hydropower development department under the Ministry of Water Resources. Tian made the comment during the national water resources work conference held in Nanning, capital of southern China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.
Tian said the aggregate installed capacity of small rural hydropower stations exceeded 50 million kW as of the end of 2008. About 25 percent of the population of 1.3 billion gets electricity from small rural hydropower stations.
China built its first small rural hydropower plant in the southwestern province of Yunnan in 1912.
Tian said in 2009, China would add 3 million kW to the installed capacity of small rural hydropower stations nationwide.
Also at the conference, Water Resources Minister Chen Lei said in 2008 China began to provide safe drinking water for an additional 48.24 million rural people. This year, another 60 million rural residents would get access to reliable drinking water.
At the end of 2000, it was difficult for 379 million rural dwellers nationwide to get safe drinking water.
Between 2000 and 2008, the water resources ministry said, China spent 61.8 billion yuan ($9.04 billion) to provide 160 million rural people with safe drinking water.