China launches 2 units of largest hydropower station

China launches 2 units of world’s largest hydropower station ahead of CPC's centenary celebrations

The dams cost about 220 billion yuan (USD 34 billion), according to media reports

This aerial photo taken on June 26, 2021 shows the 289-metre (948 ft.) tall Baihetan Hydropower Station in Zhaotong, in China's southwestern Yunnan province. Credit: AFP Photo

China on Monday launched two units of a massive hydropower station in the country's southwest, said to be the world's largest, which is under construction and costs about USD 34 billion.

The two units of the Baihetan hydropower station were launched ahead of the July 1 centenary celebrations of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC).

The hydropower station is located on the Jinsha River, the upper section of the Yangtze River, and straddles the southwestern provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan.

China has already built the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River and approved plans to build another massive dam on the Brahmaputra River in Tibet close to Arunachal Pradesh.

The dams cost about 220 billion yuan (USD 34 billion), according to media reports.

With a total installed capacity of 16 million kilowatts, the Baihetan hydropower station is equipped with 16 hydro-generating units, each with a capacity of one million kilowatts, the largest single-unit capacity in the world, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

In the station's underground powerhouse, the first two such units are running steadily. All units are scheduled to be operational in July 2022 and will generate over 62.4 billion kilowatt-hour of electricity every year on average, the report said.

When in full operation, the Baihetan project is expected to save approximately 19.68 million tonnes of standard coal, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 51.6 million tonnes, sulfur dioxide by 170,000 tonnes and nitrogen oxides by 150,000 tonnes annually, according to China Three Gorges Corporation (CTGC), which built the station.

Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated the Baihetan hydropower station for launching the first two generating units, saying as a major project in China's west-east power transmission programme, the station is the largest and most technically difficult hydropower project under construction in the world.

The station's builders and relevant parties have worked together to overcome difficulties and make contributions to the construction of the major national project, Xi said as he expressed the hope that all builders and relevant parties advance the station's follow-up work, make greater contributions to achieving the country's carbon-peak and carbon-neutralisation goals, and promote the comprehensive green transformation of economic and social development.

"The generator rotor -- a core component of the units -- weighs 1,955 tonnes, and can spin at 111 revolutions per minute and still remain stable, which ensures the long-term safe operation of the units," Chen Hao, an engineer with the CTGC said.

The dam of Baihetan is an ultra-high double-curvature arch dam with a maximum height of 289 meters and an arc length of 709 meters. The concrete pouring for the dam started in April 2017 and ended in late May this year, with a total casting volume of 8.03 million cubic meters for its main body.

"All the core technologies of the Baihetan hydropower station are independently developed. The operation of the first generating units marks a breakthrough in China's construction of large-scale hydropower projects," Lei Mingshan, chairman of CTGC, added.

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