The 2,400-megawatt Jin'an Qiao (金安桥) hydropower station on the Jinsha River downstream from Lijiang officially opened Sunday with a ceremony attended by high level national and provincial officials, according to a report on the government-run Yunnan Net website.
The Jin'an Qiao dam rises to a height of 160 meters (525 feet), only about 200 feet shorter than the Hoover Dam in the US, with 320 megawatts more generating capacity. It is also the largest hydropower dam ever built entirely with private investment, according to Yunnan Net. It was built by Hanergy Holding Group, a Beijing-based energy company that has also been involved in a dam project on the Salween River in Myanmar.
Jin'an Qiao is the first hydropower station of this size to open on the main stream of the Jinsha River (金沙江). The Jinsha is a major headwater of the Yangtze that flows out of Tibet, through Yunnan and to Yibin, Sichuan, where it joins the Min River to form the Yangtze.
Located about 30 kilometers east-southeast from Lijiang, the Jin'an Qiao dam is part of an eight-step cascading hydropower project on the section of the Jinsha downstream from Lijiang. The other seven dams are presumed to still be under various stages of construction, although up-to-date, accurate information about hydropower projects in China is scarce.
Progress has continued on dam projects on the Jinsha despite environmental concerns and accusations that the companies building them began construction without first gaining government approval.
Electricity that the new dam generates will reportedly be transmitted along high-voltage lines to energy-hungry Guangdong. During the drought that hit Yunnan in 2010, exports of electricity to Guangdong were halted and Guangdong actually donated 350-million kilowatt-hours of electricity to Yunnan.
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