Despite concerns about environmental damage, China started operating the world’s second-largest hydropower station on Monday, which officials hailed as a major step toward Beijing’s carbon-neutral goals.
The Baihetan Dam on the Jinsha River, a Yangtze tributary, is part of China’s effort to curb rising fossil fuel use by expanding hydropower capacity, at a time when dams are losing favour in other countries due to environmental concerns.
The statement comes as the governing Communist Party commemorates the official100th anniversary of its foundation in 1921 this week.
The Baihetan Dam, which stands at 289 metres (954 feet) tall, will feature 16 producing units, each having a capacity of 1 million kilowatts. It will be the second-largest dam in the world, after the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze, which opened in 2003 and has a generating capacity of 22.5 million kilowatts.
The state-owned Three Gorges Group Corp., the world’s largest investor in hydro, solar, and wind energy, constructed both. In some nations, hydropower is losing favour due to accusations that dams flood communities and farms, alter river ecosystems, and endanger fish and other species.
Despite objections from environmentalists, Chinese officials are building more dams in an attempt to reduce reliance on coal and reduce the demand for imported oil and gas.
China is a pioneer in the development of ultra-high-voltage (UHV) transmission technology to transport power from southwest dams to Shanghai and other eastern cities.According to the official Xinhua News Agency, the Baihetan Hydropower Station would remove the need to burn 20 million tonnes of coal yearly once it is fully operational.