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CHN Energy's high-altitude hydropower unit connects to grid

By ZHENG XIN | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-02 09:17
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A view of the Maerdang hydropower station in Qinghai province. CHINA DAILY

Maerdang hydropower station, the highest-altitude facility of its kind on the upper reaches of the Yellow River, has been connected to the grid and entered into operation on Monday, said its operator China Energy Investment Corp, also known as CHN Energy.

With a total installed capacity of 2.32 million kilowatts, the station, located 3,000 meters above sea level along the Yellow River in Qinghai province, is expected to generate an average of more than 7.3 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year, cutting 2.2 million metric tons of standard coal equivalent consumption and 8.16 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, it said.

The project is also the core of the company's first integrated clean energy facility in Qinghai to include hydropower, wind power, solar power and energy storage. It will take better advantage of the abundant clean energy in the western parts of China while benefiting the energy-hungry eastern regions, the company said.

With a construction period of only 36 months, the project marks an unprecedented milestone in the history of hydroelectric projects in China, said Li Jingchang, technical director at PowerChina Northwest Engineering Corp Ltd, who is responsible for the design of the hydropower station.

Li said the development of hydro resources in low-altitude areas, such as the Yangtze River and Yellow River, is nearing completion, and the next step will inevitably move toward high-altitude areas.

The construction experiences and technological achievements brought by the design, construction, and installation processes of the Maerdang hydropower station are of great significance for the construction of similar hydroelectric facilities in the future, he said.

Experiences will further benefit future hydropower projects in regions such as the Xizang autonomous region, he said.

An analyst said energy giants are increasingly transitioning toward cleaner energy resources, demonstrated by their rising investments in renewables like wind, solar, and hydropower.

Leading traditional energy companies are strategically pivoting toward cleaner and more sustainable energy resources, said Luo Zuoxian, head of intelligence and research at the Sinopec Economics and Development Research Institute.

CHN Energy has been accelerating the construction of wind and solar power facilities nationwide in recent years, while pushing forward the clean utilization of coal. It achieved a record in installed renewable energy projects last year, with power generation capacity in 2023 reaching 320 million kW, with renewable energy accounting for 35.5 percent of the total.

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