Three Gorges Dam sets power generation record in 2020

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Three Gorges Dam sets power generation record in 2020. [Photo by Huang Zhengping/For]

The Three Gorges Dam, the world's biggest hydroelectric plant in terms of installed capacity, generated 111.795 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2020, its operator announced, setting a new world record for annual power generation volume from a single hydropower station.

Clean electricity generation for all of 2020 reached 111.795 billion kilowatt-hours as of 12:00 pm Dec 31, smashing the previous world record of 103.098 billion kWh set by South America's Itaipu Dam in 2016, China Three Gorges Corporation said.

The volume of the clean electricity the Three Gorges Dam generated in 2020 is equivalent to saving 34.39 million tons of standard coal and reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides by 94.02 million, 224,000 and 212,000 tons respectively, a boon to China's efforts to build a clean, safe, efficient and low-carbon energy system and contributing to its green development initiatives.

Earlier in 2020, when China was grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Three Gorges hydropower plant continued to increase its power output and peak load regulating capacity, transmitting record clean energy to provinces and cities such as Hubei, Zhejiang and Shanghai and providing solid energy supplies to the prevention and control of the pandemic and the economic recovery.

According to estimates by economists, one kilowatt-hour of electricity can produce 13.8 yuan of gross domestic product, therefore the massive electricity of 111.8 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity the Three Gorges Dam generated in 2020 might have supported 1.54 trillion yuan's worth of GDP.

Five floods occurred along the Yangtze River basin during the flood season in 2020, with the largest peak flow rate reaching 75,000 cubic meters per second. With the strong support and help of relevant institutions and units such as the listed arm China Yangtze Power, CTG fully implemented risk management and control measures for the Three Gorges project during the flood season to optimize its operations.

These efforts also helped CTG enhance the accuracy of forecasting water and rainfall conditions in the river basin and improve its capability to coordinate control of the cascade reservoirs, laying a solid foundation for the power plant to operate at full load uninterrupted. As a result, CTG was able to mitigate floods and maintain smooth running of the equipment, keeping the Three Gorges project in safe and stable operating condition.

Since December 2020, a cold snap swept parts of China, causing temperatures to tumble and power consumption to surge in some regions due to increased household heating needs. The Three Gorges Dam has increased electricity supply during peak hours to regions where its electricity is used, filling the electricity supply gap.

The Three Gorges Dam is a backbone supplier of electricity in the country, supplying electricity to East and South China. The dam, equipped with 34 turbo generators with a combined generating capacity of 22.5 million kilowatts, has a designed annual power generation of 88.2 billion kilowatt-hours. The project has generated a total of 1.3 trillion kilowatt-hours of clean electricity as of the end of 2020 since it became operational in 2003.

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