The Wudongde hydropower plant on the Yangtze River has begun full operation, Reuters has reported, citing state-owned Chinese media.
The 12-generator plant cost close to $19 billion to build and has an installed capacity of 10.2 GW. It first started generating electricity last year, but now all its generators have been put online so it is fully operational.
The plant is the seventh-largest hydropower facility in the world.
According to a China Central Television report cited by Global Times, the Wudongde hydropower plant would have the capacity to produce 38.91 billion kWh annually at full capacity. This will be the equivalent of saving some 12.2 million tons of standard coal and eliminating 30.5 million tons of carbon dioxide annually.
The project has not been spared environmentalist opposition. According to the opponents, the massive structure has caused irreparable damage to the fragile ecosystems of the area, the Reuters report notes. According to the Chinese authorities, however, the benefits of the clean power project outweigh the drawbacks. In addition to generating electricity from a renewable source, the authorities say the dam provides easier navigation of the river and better flood control.
China is the world’s leader in hydropower capacity, with a total of 1.302 terawatt-hours as of 2019. Canada is a distant second with 398 TWh. As befits the global leader, China is home to four of the world’s largest hydropower plants, including the massive Three Gorges dam with a capacity of 22.5 GW and Xiluodu with a capacity of 13.86 GW.
Thanks to its abundant hydropower resources, China is actively building its generation capacity as part of its efforts to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and pollution. The Wudongde plant is part of this buildup that should help China come closer to its goal of becoming a carbon-neutral economy by 2060.