Very recently, China commissioned a new hydroelectric power station. It’s big news for its people, because it’s a gigantic arch dam. It is the largest of its kind in the world and they called it Baihetan.
The importance of Baihetan
Nowadays, with more and more inhabitants, there is a need for more electricity supply. In addition to the demand from the growing industry, electrical products used in households increase the demand. All this means that more and more energy has to be generated.
However, when talking about the largest dam in the world, it is only surpassed by the Three Gorges Dam, also located in China. Although the latter is not an arch type, it is the mega construction of the largest hydroelectric power plant on the planet.
With the opening of the Baihetan Dam, China completes its hydroelectric power plant project. The dam began construction in 2017, on the Jinsha River in the southwest of the country. It is now partially operational.
Baihetan is the world’s largest arch-shaped hydroelectric power plant
The dam is arched and is notable because it is double-curved. It is 277 meters high. It is even higher than the Three Gorges Dam, which measures 185 metres. It has a crest elevation of 827 meters and an arch length of 709 meters in its central part. Its width at the base is 72 meters and 13 meters at the crest. These monstrous measurements make it by far the largest arch dam in existence.
The Baihetan dam, when it completes the water level it will usually have, will start up its 16 turbines. It will then be able to generate about 16,000 MW, which will supply electricity to about 500,000 people a year.
Although its generating capacity is monstrous, it is still behind that of Three Gorges which generates 22500 MW. However, it surpasses the second largest power generator to date. This is the Chinese Xiloudu power plant with 13500 MW. Its first turbine will be installed in 2019 and the dam will be completed in June 2021.
Baihetan generates great expectations and promises a grandiose future
China’s goal with this rapid construction is to eventually supply most of its territory with clean energy. This is as a consequence of carbon neutrality by 2060. By the end of June, two of its turbines started to generate power, until they are filled to the set level. In this way the power plant will be fully operational by 2022.
Although it is clean energy generation, many environmental groups oppose this type of mega-construction. The reason is the environmental impact they generate. They modify the habitat of hundreds of species and also harm agriculture.
However, these consequences for the environment are minor. The most damaging is caused by gas or coal-fired power plants. We will have to wait to see if it will be finished in time. And whether it will be able to generate what is expected of it.