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China completes construction of world's second-largest hydropower station


Construction of all 16 generation units completed, with 16 GW total capacity

Capable of substituting at least 19.68 million mt/year of coal consumption

  • Author
  • Ivy Yin
  • Editor
  • Wendy Wells
  • Commodity
  • Coal Electric Power Energy Transition

Construction of China's Baihetan hydropower station has been completed, with all 16 generation units ready for operation for a total capacity of 16 GW, project developer China Three Gorges Corporation said in a statement late Feb. 27.

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The Baihetan station is the world's second-largest hydropower station by capacity, behind China's Three Gorges hydropower station with 22.5 GW of installed capacity.

Some of the 16 generation units began operating before construction was fully completed and their hydropower output has averaged 62.443 terawatt-hour/year, equivalent to China's annual residential power supply to 75 million people, according to the company statement.

Baihetan can substitute at least 19.68 million mt/year of coal consumption and achieve 52 million mtCO2e/year of emissions reduction, the company added.

The hydropower station is located at the junction of Sichuan and Yunnan provinces in southwest China, which have the nation's most abundant hydropower resources. The two provinces are China's biggest hydropower exporters, transmitting clean electricity to the nation's east and southeast coastal regions where there is greater population density and industrial energy demand.

Despite hydropower shortages that have resulted from droughts in recent years, the Chinese government considers hydropower a cornerstone of its power system's low-carbon transformation.

China's hydropower installed capacity is expected to increase by around 2.9% in 2023, with the China Electricity Council and National Energy Agency setting cumulative capacity targets of 410-420 GW for 2023.