Tibet’s 510-MW Zangmu hydroelectric facility is online

At more than 10,800 ft above sea level, the 510-MW Zangmu Hydropower Station is fully operational. Published reports in India, China and Tibet consider the facility to be the largest in Tibet and one of the highest elevation hydroelectric powerhouses in the world. Constructed at a cost of US$1.5 billion, the facility is located in Gyaca County, Shannan Prefecture on the Yarlung Zangbo River (Brahmaputra River) that flows through Tibet downstream into India and Bangladesh.

According to China Gezhouba Group, the facility’s contractor, the facility includes:

– A concrete gravity dam 381 feet in height by and 1,276 feet in length;
– A spillway, plunge pool and bottom outlet on the right bank;
– A retaining dam section 262 feet in height on the left bank;
– A 70,208 acre-feet reservoir at 10,860 ft above sea level; and
– A powerhouse that has six 85-MW Francis turbine-generators.

“It will alleviate the electricity shortage in central Tibet and empower the development of the electricity-strapped region. It is also an important energy base in central Tibet,” the company said.

Only five rivers in the world carry more water than the Yarlung Zangbo and only one, the Yellow River, carries more silt. In the Kailash Range of the Middle Himalayas, the river rises to a height of 17,380 ft. and flows east through Tibet for 994 miles before taking a horseshoe bend. The river’s name changes to Brahmaputra River as it flows into north-eastern India.

The facility is about 200 mi south of Lhasa, Tibet’s capital city.


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Gregory B. Poindexter formerly was an associate editor for HydroWorld.com.

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