China on Monday started building its second largest hydroelectric power project in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River.
Xiluodu Hydropower Station, the first of four hydropower stations on the Jinsha River, is a major west-to-east electricity transmission project and an important move to develop China's resource-rich but poor western region.
Located in Xiluodu Gorge between Yongshan county of Yunnan Province and Leibo county of Sichuan Province, the project is designed to generate 12.6 million kilowatts of electricity, next only to the Three Gorges Project on the Yangtze.
Electricity generated at Xiluodu station will foster industrial and economic growth in eastern and central China regions.
The station is expected to stem the turbulent Jinsha River in November 2007, and first generating unit will be installed in June 2012.
The entire project will be completed in 2015 and will cost 50.34 billion yuan (US$6.2 billion) of static investment.
Besides power generation and water storage, the project is also designed to prevent flood on the unruly Jinsha River, block sand, protect the local environment and facilitate water traffic in the lower reaches of the river.
"The project is launched after three years of preparations in terms of technical planning, environmental protection, water protection, and the relocation of over 7,000 residents in the construction area," said Li Yong'an, general manager of China Three Gorges Project Corporation, the prime contractor of the construction project.
Li said his company has launched a special preservation project to protect rare fish in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River and throughout the construction process, the company will report to State Environmental Protection Administration and the local environment watchdog on any possible impact on the river's ecosystem.
China is also planning for three other hydropower stations in the lower reaches of the Jinsha River, namely, Wudongde, Baihetan and Xiangjiaba stations, in the coming five years. The river's waterpower reserve tops 112 million kilowatts, about 16 percent of China's total.
(China Daily December 27, 2005)