The first units of the Baihetan hydropower plant on the Jinsha River in southwestern China's Sichuan province officially started generating power at around 6:55 am Monday, according to CCTV.
It is the world's second-largest hydropower plant after the Three Gorges Project and completed a 72-hour continuous trial run with load before officially starting operation, according to the report.
It is the second of four hydroelectric power stations in the lower Jinsha River developed and built by China Three Gorges Corporation, a Chinese clean energy group, with a total investment of more than RMB 170 billion (US$26.3 billion).
The hydropower station is located on the border between the southwestern provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan. It has a total installed capacity of 16 million kilowatts, second only to Three Gorges' 22.5 million kilowatts.
It is the first in the world with a single unit capacity of 1 million kilowatts. The underground cavern complex has a total mileage of 217 km, which is the largest in the world.
The hydropower station will deliver power to East China, Central China, and South China, becoming the backbone of the West-to-East Power Transmission Project, China's strategic energy layout.
The power plant is also an important part of the construction of the Yangtze River ecological barrier. After the plant is put into operation, it will save 19.68 million tons of standard coal and reduce emissions of 51.6 million tons of carbon dioxide, 170,000 tons of sulfur dioxide and 150,000 tons of nitrogen oxides per year.
For the first time, the power plant will use all of China's locally produced megawatt-class hydro generator sets, which is another historic leap in China's major hydropower equipment, said Liang Weiyan, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, as quoted by CCTV.
The scale and difficulty of the construction of the hydropower plant is among the world's leading hydropower projects, and a series of world-class problems, including the use of low-heat concrete for the construction of the entire dam under complex geological conditions, needed to be overcome.
According to the construction master plan, all units of Baihetan hydropower plant will be completed and put into operation in July 2022, when a day's power generation can meet 500,000 people's annual electricity consumption, Global Times reported on Sunday.