China approves third-largest hydro project

China has given initial approval for the country’s third-largest hydropower station, 12,000-MW Baihetan, to be built on the lower reaches of the Jinsha River on the border between Sichuan and Yunnan provinces.

The official China Daily reported June 6 that the National Development and Reform Commission gave the go-ahead to Baihetan. As well as generating an average 56 million MWh annually, the project is intended to help reduce silt building up in the reservoir behind 18,200-MW Three Gorges Dam, downstream on the Yangtze River.

Baihetan will be China’s third-largest hydropower station, behind Three Gorges, which is being expanded to 22,400 MW, and 12,600-MW Xiluodu, also being built on the Jinsha. All three are being developed by China Three Gorges Project Corp.

Three Gorges cofferdam removed; Alstom delivers unit

The Baihetan announcement came June 6, the day China blew up the last temporary wall protecting Three Gorges Dam construction.

The 580-meter-long, 140-meter-high cofferdam connected to the southern bank of the Yangtze River was brought down in 12 seconds in a series of explosions using 191.3 tons of explosives, official Xinhua news agency said.

Meanwhile, equipment manufacturer Alstom announced delivery of the first 700-MW turbine runner for the Three Gorges Right Bank powerhouse, 1.5 months ahead of schedule. The 460-ton, 10.9-meter-diameter runner was built by Alstom’s local Tianjin unit in a temporary workshop six kilometers downstream from the main dam.

The runner, which was produced in a record nine months, is part of Alstom’s 2004 contract to supply four turbine-generators for the right bank powerhouse. Delivery is to be complete in August 2007. Alstom is the sole foreign supplier for the right bank powerhouse and supplied eight of the 14 units in the Three Gorges Left Bank powerhouse, which are operating.

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