China launches Baihetan hydropower project, largest since the Three Gorges


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SHANGHAI, June 28 (Reuters) – The giant Baihetan hydropower plant on the upstream arm of the Yangtze River in China began producing electricity for the first time on Monday, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

The first two 1 gigawatt (GW) turbines in the project will start operating after a three-day trial, CCTV said. The project will eventually include 16 such units, making its total production capacity the second behind the Three Gorges Dam when completed in July next year.

Baihetan was built by the China Three Gorges Corporation and is located on the border between the southwestern provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan. It is part of a cascade of dams on the Jinsha River, which is the upstream part of the Yangtze.

Although the Three Gorges Corporation has declared that it is one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects in China, with a dam height of 289 meters (948 feet), its construction does not took that four years.

Coverage of the project in Chinese state media has been extensive, with CCTV and Xinhua both focusing on the advanced engineering and manufacturing capabilities required. President Xi Jinping also approved the roadblock in a letter released on Monday.

“As a major project of the West-East China Power Transmission Program, Baihetan is the largest and most technically challenging hydropower project currently under construction in the world,” Xi said, adding that the project marked a major breakthrough in the manufacturing of high-end equipment in China. .

The project is part of a national program to generate electricity and deliver it to energy-intensive regions of the east coast, and is also designed to strengthen the control of water flows during the peak season. summer floods.

An ultra-high voltage (UHV) power transmission line connecting Baihetan to eastern Jiangsu province began construction in late 2020 and is expected to be launched in 2022. Another UHV from Baihetan to Zhejiang province, also in the east China awaits Beijing approval.

Provinces in eastern and central China with larger populations and more developed economies have experienced power shortages during peak demand periods. Read more

In addition, regions that depended on coal for power generation are scrambling to find clean energy sources, mainly in the western regions of China, to boost their economies under pressure from the central government to achieve climate change targets.

In its latest five-year plan covering the period 2021-2025, Sichuan Province aims to complete the project to build 10 hydropower plants and start building seven more.

The 10.2 GW Wudongde hydroelectric project, built upstream of the Jinsha from Baihetan, was fully operational in mid-June. Read more

An environmental group has criticized the construction of large-scale dams on the Yangtze and its tributaries, fearing that the river’s overengineering has destroyed key habitats and damaged natural floodplains.

Reporting by David Stanway; Edited by Christian Schmollinger

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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