China sees year-early completion of 18,200-MW Three Gorges

China’s 18,200-MW Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydropower project, is expected to be completed by the end of 2008, a year ahead of schedule, state media reported.

Three to four generators are due to start operation this year, the state-owned Xinhua news service reported March 23. The initial project has a total capacity of 18,200 MW. Additionally, the developer plans to boost capacity to 22,400 MW by adding another six, underground, generators. (HNN 2/15/07)

China Three Gorges Project Corp., operator of the project, had invested 131.3 billion renminbi (US$17 billion) by the end of 2006 and would keep the total cost within 180 billion (US$23 billion), Xinhua said, lower than the earlier reported US$25 billion.

Wary of over-dependence on imported oil, China is keen to boost the use of hydropower, now supplying nearly a quarter of the country’s installed electricity capacity.

A series of similar mega-hydropower plants has been planned or is under construction in the water-rich southwest. (HNN 3/8/07) Chinese and international conservation groups have decried the projects, saying they damage the environment and cultural relics while bringing few benefits to millions of residents forced out of their homes.

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