2.6GW Hydropower Plant in Xizang Approved by China’s NDRC

    China’s state planner, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), has reportedly approved the construction of a hydropower plant in the Xizang Autonomous Region in Southwest China. The project is expected to be led by Huaneng Lancang River Hydropower Co—a Chinese state-owned energy and utilities provider. The company will receive a capital backing of roughly 58.38 billion yuan (USD8.2 billion) for the undertaking, reports Global Times. Whilst 30% of the financing is being sourced from the company’s funds, the remaining 70% is expected to come through China’s policy banks and commercial lenders.

    The construction plan, approved by the NDRC in April 2023, is now deemed technically feasible, paving the way for the imminent commencement of the project. Slated to span 11 years (excluding the preparatory work), the hydropower plant will have an installed capacity of 2.6 GW.

    The Lancang ranks as Asia’s third-longest river, stretching across an impressive 4,909 kilometres. Beyond the borders of China, it is known as the Mekong. The hydropower plant will be placed on the upper reaches of the river. It is expected to produce more than 11.28 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year.

    In a pre-work report issued in April 2021, the company spotlighted the potential of developing hydropower resources in upstream Lancang. The findings positioned the river as one of China’s major hydroelectric resource bases. The report mentioned a construction plan by the China Renewable Energy Engineering Institute (CREEI) that expects the region to establish a clean energy base with a combined hydro and solar power generation capacity of 20 million KW. This base is predicted to transmit 57.1 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually to the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

    To ensure systematic implementation, the construction of the hydropower plant will be carried out in phases during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021–2025). Under the plan, the clean energy base will start operating in 2030, with completion expected in 2035.

    One of the main components of a hydroelectric facility, the dam, demands constant monitoring to ensure project safety and prevent failures. However, the massive size and often-remote locations of these structures make dam monitoring highly challenging. For operators looking for safe and efficient dam monitoring, using a high-end fibre optic sensing-based solution such as Silixa is a sensible business investment. Such a system can prevent dam failures by delivering reliable real-time information on the structure’s integrity.

    Coming back to the hydropower station in Xizang, NDRC’s approval for its construction has been marked as a significant milestone in China’s pursuit of sustainable energy and economic development. In addition to providing renewable clean energy, the plant is expected to bolster local tax revenues and employment opportunities. Local financial departments expect the annual tax contributions from the project to exceed 1 billion yuan (USD 140.8 million). Local authorities hope this fiscal revenue to help the region enhance its infrastructure, create employment opportunities, and improve the living standards of its residents.

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