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Xiaowan dam generating electricity in Kunming
By Li Yingqing and Guo Anfei (China Daily Yunnan Bureau)
Updated: 2009-09-25 21:28

Just outside Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan province, a giant billboard advertises Hydrolancang on a sky-blue background.

Hydrolancang is the company building two of the world's tallest and most controversial hydro dams on the Lancang River.

When completed in 2011, Xiaowan will have an installed capacity of 4,200 megawatts and will be the world's tallest arch dam, with a height of 292 meters–equal to the 71-storey SEG Plaza in the coastal city of Shenzhen. The second dam, already under way, will be 254 meters (52-storeys-high).

The first generating units of Xiaowan will begin generating electricity on September 25. The total units will take 10 years to construct.

Hydrolancang, officially the Yunnan Huaneng Lancang River Hydropower Company, a subsidiary of one of China's "big five" power generating companies, has plans for 15 high dams along the Lancang River.

It already has three large hydro dams operating on the Lancang—Manwan, Dachaoshan and Jinghong—and three under construction, the general manager of Hydrolancang, Wang Yongxiang said.