The first generating unit with a hydropower station on the Lancang River, which is known as the Mekong River after it leaves Chinese territory, started up on Thursday.
This generator is one of the three units to be installed for the first phase development at the Jinghong Hydropower Station. The two remaining units will be generating electricity in the latter half of the year, according to Na Xizhi, deputy general manager of China Huaneng Group, the investor.
The Jinghong Hydropower Station, which began construction in July 2003, will have a combined generating capacity of 1.75 million kilowatts. It has been built with a dam that is 108 meters high and 704.5 meters long on the Lancang River.
The project is a key part of China's strategy to develop its vast west and send electricity from there to the east. Apart from power generation, the project will also bring benefits such as shipping, flood control and tourism development.
With a budget of 12.3 billion yuan ($1.76 billion), the Jinghong station is the third such facility on the river.
China plans to build a group of 14 power stations on the Lancang River with a total installed capacity of 22.6 million kw. At present, the Manwan Power Station and Dachaoshan Power Station on the river are operating.