Beyond the Three Gorges Dam more Hydro projects in China

According to official chinese government figures, total national hydro generating capacity will reach 270GW by 2020 China’s total hydroelectric generating capacity stood at 115GW in 2006, before the first phase of the Three Gorges hydro power plant was completed. The 155GW of hydro power to be added between 2006-2020 is the equivalent of adding 1.2 Three Gorges dam every two years. Once the entire project is completed, probably in 2008, it will have generating capacity of 18.2GW, far higher than any other hydro venture. The 26 power generating units, which each have generating capacity of 700MW, are designed to produce a total of 84.7BkWh/year. Electricity produced by the Three Gorges hydro power plant goes on stream at a price of 0.25 yuan per kWh.

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China rivers

The Yellow River Hydroelectric Development Corporation’s scheme on the Yellow river will become the world’s second biggest hydro scheme with capacity of 15.8GW. Centred on a 250m high dam in Qinghai Province, which will be finished in 2010, the venture will generate 10BkWh of electricity a year.

Construction work on the 12.6GW Xiluodu project on the Jianshajiang river began in December 2005. The scheme has been developed to increase electricity supplies to Yunnan and Sichuan provinces in the west of the country, although new transmission links are planned that will enable surplus electricity to be marketed in the more industrialised east. Development costs are put at 50.34B yuan (US$6.2B), with the first turbine due to be installed by June 2012 and the entire project completed by 2015.

The Jianshajiang, which is a tributary of the Yangtze and which is also known as the Jinsha, will also host another major hydro project. The 6GW Xiangjiaba venture in the southwest of the country was originally proposed in 1957 and work was scheduled to begin at the end of 2005 but construction did not commence until November 2006. Investment costs are estimated at US$3.68B and around 89,000 people will have to move, as villages and farmland will be lost to make way for the project’s reservoir. Xiangjiaba, which is also being developed by CTGPC, is scheduled for completion in 2015 and production is expected to reach 31BkWh a year.

Wei Xikan, the deputy director of CTGPC’s planning and development department, has revealed that apart from the Xiangjiaba and Xiluodu projects, twelve other hydro schemes are planned for the middle and upper reaches of the Jianshajiang before 2020, including the Wudongde and Baihetan projects. Total additional generating capacity from the twelve is estimated at 58GW. Indeed, Chinese media sources insist that 100 new hydro schemes will be built on the upper reaches of the Yangtze and its tributaries in the long term. If these various ventures are actually put in place, they will make the river one of the most heavily developed in the world

The Renewable Energy Law, which came into force in January 2006, sets a target of producing 10% of all electricity by renewable means by 2020, but even if that is achieved the hydro sector will continue to account for far more low emission capacity than all solar, wind and biomass projects combined.


Nuclear is projected to account for 4% of electricity at about 40GW in 2020.

CapGemini projects that China will have 1230GW of electrical power by 2020. Up from about 600GW in 2006

According to Capgemini, China’s electricity market will require an investment of $590 billion to deliver a total installed capacity of 1230 GW by 2020.

While utility sector investment may present some barriers, opportunities for equipment suppliers are plenty. The need for 48 GW of new capacity each year means that China will continue to be a key market.

By 2020 the country aims to have installed 30 GW of wind power, but this, says Capgemini, is unrealistic, requiring an annual growth rate of over 25 per cent.

There is also potential for the development of natural gas fired capacity in China, says Capgemini, which believes that the exploitation and transportation of gas in China will have moved on by 2020, allowing the capacity of gas fired power plants to have risen to 85 GW, or 6.9 per cent of total installed capacity.

To achieve its stated objective of 40 GW of nuclear capacity by 2020, China requires an investment of $49 billion. More than 25 sites are planned for the next 15 years, with each site consisting of 4-6 units, each above 1000 GW.

China would have about 35% power from non-fossil fuel sources in 2020. 270GW Hydro, 40GW nuclear, 123GW from renewables if targets are reached. 42% of power would be from non-coal sources if natural gas usage is increased as projected.

Projected spending in China on power by source until 2020 in billions of USD

The Jinshajiang River is a main sand producer in the Yingtze River. So the dam there is projected to reduce by 34% sand buildup in the Three Gorges area

China also has a goal of increasing river shipping from 10 million tons per year to 50 million on the Yangtze

River shipping cheaper and more efficient (544-1290 ton miles per gallon) than rail (400-500 ton miles) and can be over 10 times cheaper than trucks (60-80 ton miles)