China completes construction of second biggest hydro plant

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China’s second largest hydropower facility on the upstream branch of the Yangtze river was formally completed on Tuesday after the last generating unit was connected to the grid.

The Baihetan hydropower plant is equipped with sixteen1-gigawatt (GW) turbines, making it the second largest hydropower generator in China and the world, behind only the Three Gorges Project, also on the Yangtze river.

The plant is estimated to generate 62.44 billion kilowatt-hour (kWh) annually, which could save about 90.45 million tons of coal a year and cut annual carbon dioxide emissions by 248.4 million tonnes.

Baihetan is one of six giant hydropower stations along the Yangtze river, China’s longest. The Three Gorges Corporation, the project’s developer, has described the 289-metre (948.16ft) dam and its associated infrastructure as one of the country’s biggest and most challenging engineering projects.

Construction began in 2017, with a total investment estimated at 170 billion yuan ($24.38 billion). As a major project in China’s west-east power transmission program, it will deliver electricity across the country to cities in the east.

China is pressing ahead with hydropower construction in the south-west, despite a long and punishing drought this summer that saw generation volumes plunge and forced regions to ration power consumption.