China’s 16-GW Baihetan hydropower plant begins operating

Baihetan hydropower China
Baihetan hydropower plant. Credit: China Three Gorges

The Baihetan hydropower plant on the upstream branch of China’s Yangtze River has begun generating electricity for the first time, according to China’s state broadcaster CCTV.

CCTV has reported that the project’s first two 1GW turbines will start up after a three-day trial, CCTV said. The project will eventually consist of 16 such units, making its total generation capacity second only to the Three Gorges Dam once it is fully completed in July next year.

Baihetan hydropower station is located at the boundary river section between Yunnan and Sichuan, the second cascade among the four cascade hydropower stations in the downstream section of Jinsha River. With an installed capacity of 16GW, it is said to be the second-largest hydropower project in the world.

The project forms part of a national drive to generate electricity and deliver it to high energy-consuming regions on the east coast. To this end, an ultra-high voltage electricity transmission line, expected to launch in 2022, will connect Baihetan to the eastern province of Jiangsu. Another UHV from Baihetan to Zhejiang province, also in eastern China, is waiting for Beijing’s approval.

Baihetan, built by the China Three Gorges Corporation, is said to be one of China’s largest and most challenging engineering projects. It has a dam height of 289 metres (948 feet) and took four years to build.

See PE’s full coverage of hydroelectric projects around the world

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