Pri­mary work starts at Bai­hetan dam

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By ZHENG XIN zhengxin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Con­struc­tion started on Thurs­day on what is to be the world’s se­cond-largest hydropower project, the Bai­hetan hydropower sta­tion, which is ex­pected to en­ter op­er­a­tion by 2022.

It will be se­cond only to the Three Gorges dam in terms of to­tal in­stalled ca­pac­ity, weigh­ing in at 16 gi­gawatts of ca­pac­ity and an av­er­age an­nual out­put of more than 62 bil­lion kilo­watt-hours, ac­cord­ing to China Three Gorges Corp, the dam’s builder.

Af­ter six years of pre­lim­i­nary con­struc­tion, the site is ready for the main project work, in­clud­ing build­ing the dam and ex­ca­vat­ing un­der­ground tun­nels, the builder said on Thurs­day.

Ex­perts think the op­er­a­tion of the Bai­hetan dam, on the Jin­sha River, an up­stream branch of the Yangtze River, will sub­stan­tially boost the share of hydropower in the coun­try’s en­ergy mix while up­grad­ing the power struc­ture of the coun­try’s power grid.

China is rich in hy­dropow- er re­sources, and the Bai­hetan hydropower sta­tion will rep­re­sent a good uti­liza­tion of those re­sources while re­duc­ing green­house gas emis­sions caused by coal burn­ing, ac­cord­ing to Wang Hao, aca­demi­cian with the Chi­nese Academy of En­gi­neer­ing.

“While China is cur­rently still re­ly­ing on fos­sil en­ergy, clean en­ergy and re­new­able en­ergy uti­liza­tion will be an im­por­tant di­rec­tion for China’s en­ergy con­sump­tion in the fu­ture,” Wang said.

“Hydropower de­vel­op­ment in the up­per reaches of Yangtze River still has a lot of po­ten­tial to be fur­ther tapped.”

As a ma­jor west-to-east elec­tric­ity trans­mis­sion project and an im­por­tant move to de­velop China’s re­source-rich but oth­er­wise poor western re­gion, the Bai­hetan hydropower sta­tion, span­ning Yun­nan and Sichuan prov­inces, will meet the de­mand for power in both prov­inces, while sup­ply­ing power to the East China Power Grid, Cen­tral China Power Grid and China South­ern Power Grid, cor­po­ra­tion of­fi­cials said.

The sta­tion, lo­cated in Ning­nan county in Sichuan and Qiao­jia county in Yun­nan, will re­place ther­mal power gen­er­at­ing ca­pac­ity of more than 62.44 bil­lion kWh and 19.68 mil­lion met­ric tons of coal each year. It also will re­duce emis­sions of car­bon diox­ide by 51.6 mil­lion tons, sul­fur diox­ide by 170,000 tons, ni­tro­gen ox­ide by 150,000 tons and dust by 220,000 tons each year, of­fi­cials said.

The dam is built on the main stream of the lower reaches of the Jin­sha River, and while it is de­signed mainly for power gen­er­a­tion, other func­tions in­clude flood con­trol, im­prove­ment of down­stream nav­i­ga­tion and de­vel­op­ment of trans­porta­tion via wa­ter in the reser­voir area.

To meet China’s goals on en­ergy con­ser­va­tion and emis­sion re­duc­tions, the coun­try in­tends to reach an in­stalled ca­pac­ity for hydropower of 380 gi­gawatts by 2020 as it seeks cheaper and cleaner al­ter­na­tives to coal and weans it­self off pol­lut­ing fos­sil fu­els.

ZHAO YUN / FOR CHINA DAILY

Prepara­tory work for the Bai­hetan hydropower sta­tion, slated to be the world’s se­cond largest, is shown in Yun­nan and Sichuan prov­inces on July 27.

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