China's highest-altitude major water conservancy project enters full operation ahead of schedule in Namling county, Xigaze city, Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region on Friday, further addressing the long-term power shortage problem in the region.
The Xiang River hydroelectric hub, currently the highest-altitude major water conservancy project in China, has successfully completed installation and operation of all four generating units, ensuring crucial power supply to central Tibet, especially during periods of low water availability, the Global Times learned from the co-developer PowerChina Chengdu Engineering Co (PowerChina Chengdu) on Friday. The company managed the entire process of construction and consulting, while the construction itself was carried out by PowerChina's Sinohydro Bureau 9 Co.
The two developers overcame adverse conditions including high altitudes, the harsh climate, complex geology, tight deadlines, and the impact of the pandemic to successfully complete the project and achieve a local power generation target in just over four years.
The Xiang River project, with the total investment of more than 2.7 billion yuan ($370 million), is located in the upstream section of Namling county, Xigaze city in the region. It lies in the middle of the Xiang River basin, a major tributary of the Yarlung Zangbo River, one of the major water sources in Asia, at an elevation ranging from 3,790 to 4,950 meters.
This is the first large-scale water conservancy project in Xigaze city to adopt a delegated construction model, consisting of a hub project and a supporting irrigation area. The primary objectives of the project are irrigation, water supply, and improving the ecological environment of the surrounding natural conservation area, with power generation as a secondary consideration, Wang Xiaopeng, a representative from a subsidiary of PowerChina Chengdu, which was responsible for the project, told the Global Times, adding that it will effectively address the problem of winter power shortages in Xigaze city.
The normal water level of the Xiang River project reservoir is 4,099 meters, with a total storage capacity of 113 million cubic meters. The power station has a capacity of 40,000 kilowatts, with an average annual power generation of 138 million kilowatt-hours, according to the developer.
The completion and put-into-operation of the project will effectively improve irrigation for 124,900 acres of farmland in Namling, and along the downstream area, creating the largest "granary" in Xigaze City.
The project commenced construction in April 2019 and achieved diversion in 2020. In October 2022, the reservoir started to fill with water.
During the project construction, multiple optimization proposals were put forward, including the optimization of high slope excavation and support design plans, resulting in a time-saving of at least four months.
In addition to alleviating the long-term power shortage and providing water for urban and rural areas in the region, the project will also play a vital role in boosting agricultural productivity, increasing the incomes of local farmers, and promoting local economic and social development in line with the goals of rural revitalization, PowerChina Chengdu said.