By Lobsang Tenchoe
DHARAMSALA May 02: China has started construction of its biggest hydropower project in Tibet on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River.
The Suwalong hydropower project at the junction of Markham county in Tibet and Bathang county in the traditional Tibetan province of Kham (now incorporated in Sichuan province) has a design capacity of 1.2 GW with capability to generate about 5,400-GWh electricity a year.
The project, assigned to China Huadian Corporation at an estimated cost of over $3 billion, will supply electricity to the economically well-off regions in the country’s eastern region.
It is one of the key projects of the Twelfth Five-Year Plan of China (2012-2017); it is also the first project that delivers Tibet’s electricity out.
With twice the design capacity, the project easily surpasses the largest existing dam at Zangmu hydropower plant at Yarlung Tsangpo which was completed in October last year. According to official reports, Yangtze River will be dammed by 2017 and the project will be completed and start generating power by 2021.
The China Huadian Corp is one of the five largest state-owned power generation enterprises in China. It produces about 10% of China’s power along with Huaneng Group, Datang Group, Guodian Group and CPI Group.