China’s giant Wudongde hydro project put into full operation


China’s massive Wudongde hydropower plant started generating power from the last of its series of 12 generators of 850MW on Wednesday, marking the full completion of the costly and giant dam on the upper reaches of the Yangtze river.

China Three Gorges Corp, the state-owned firm in charge of the project, completed 72 hours of test operations at the 12th generator at the Wudongde plant and sent electricity to the southern China power grid, state-run China Energy News reported.

The 120 billion yuan ($18.76 billion) plant, built near the provincial border of Yunnan and Sichuan on the Jinsha river has a total installed capacity of 10.2 gigawatts and started first units began operating successfully on 29 June 2020, and with the final units commissioned the project has been completed on schedule.

The  project is being developed by Jhinsa River Yunchuan Hydropower Development Company, a joint-venture of China Three Gorges Corporation ( CTG, 70%), Sichuan Province (15%) and Yunnan Province (15%). CTG is the operator of the facility.

Its 270-metre high dam is one of the tallest in the world, dwarfing the one at the Three Gorges project around 950 kilometres (590 miles) to the east, which stands at 181 metres.

Environmentalists say these massive dams have caused irreparable damage to the region’s already fragile environment, but the government insists any negative aspects are outweighed by the benefits of clean power, easier navigation and more effective flood control.

Wudongde hydropower plant ranks seventh in the world and fourth in China in terms of installed capacity. It is a multipurpose project providing flood protection, inland navigation and promoting local social and economic development in addition to generating clean power.

Wudongde, along with the 16GW Baihaten project, forms the second phase of the four large hydropower projects being constructed downstream of the Jinsha River. The first phase involved the construction of the Xiluodu Hydropower Station and the Xiangjiaba Hydropower Station.