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Caixin

China's climate goals leave a province torn between past and future

Hydropower-rich Yunnan struggles to balance role as dry season wreaks havoc

The Baihetan hydropower plant. Yunnan Province's prodigious but intermittent power sources have attracted a raft of electrolytic aluminum producers, who have since been told to use less electricity.   © Reuters

The scenic southwestern province of Yunnan is known for its tourism and rich hydropower resources. Over the past few years, it has donned a new name, "the aluminum valley of China," thanks to the massive relocation of electrolytic aluminum producers attracted by the region's low electricity prices from all that hydropower.

The transition came faster than what the province was ready for. In mid-September, the provincial government announced that local smelters must cut aluminum production by 30% for the rest of 2021.

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