China Claims World's Largest Clean Energy Corridor

The Baihetan hydropower station, the world’s second-largest in terms of total installed capacity, went fully operational on December 20, 2022 in the upper section of the Yangtze River in southwest China, according to a report from the Chinese state news agency Xinhua

Its operation, the report claims, marked the completion of the world’s largest clean energy corridor, where six mega hydropower stations on the Yangtze work to transmit electricity from the resource-rich west to energy-consuming regions in the east.

Baihetan’s full operation came after the last of its 16 hydro-generating units completed a 72-hour trial operation. With a total installed capacity of 16 million kilowatts, Baihetan is second only to the Three Gorges Dam project in the central Chinese province of Hubei.

“Baihetan signifies a major breakthrough in China’s high-end equipment manufacturing, as it is equipped with 16 home-grown hydro-generating units, each with a capacity of 1 million kilowatts, the largest single-unit capacity in the world,” said Lei Mingshan, chairman of China Three Gorges Corporation.

“The full operation of Baihetan is of great significance to China’s shift in energy structure, the construction of the Yangtze River Economic Belt, and the coordinated development of the regional economy in the country,” Lei added.

Ecological Restoration

The six hydropower stations on the Yangtze River, all run by the corporation, are expected to generate 300 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity every year, reducing coal consumption by 90 million tonnes and carbon emissions by 248 million tonnes.

Four of them – Wudongde, Baihetan, Xiluodu, and Xiangjiaba – are located on the Jinsha River, the upper section of the Yangtze River, while the other two – Three Gorges Dam and Gezhouba – are on the middle section of the Yangtze.

Collectively, they account for about one-fifth of China’s total hydropower installed capacity, forming a 1,800-km-long clean energy corridor that also plays a major role in flood control, shipping, water resources utilization, and ecological security in the Yangtze River Basin.

Environmental protection had been high on the agenda during its construction. Projects such as ecological restoration of the Heishui River habitat, stratified intake facilities and botanical gardens, were implemented to build an ecological barrier in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, according to the Three Gorges Corporation.

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