China Rushes to Build a New Generation of Mega-dams

In its rush to find sources of power, China has focused on hydropower. Following the construction of the massive Three Gorges Dam, work is now centered on the Jinsha River in Yunnan Province, where up to 30 dams are currently in the works or being planned. As with the Three Gorges, dams on the Jinsha have raised concerns from environmental activists and residents who are being forced to relocate. The Telegraph got access to one the largest projects, Xiluodi Dam, which will soon go online:

At the centre of China’s latest hydro push is the Jinsha, a murky brown tributary of the world-famous Yangtze. Two vast projects – Xiluodu and Xiangjiaba – will soon go online here, becoming China’s second and third biggest dams with joint capacity to produce around 20GW – enough to power almost all the homes in England. With an installed capacity of 12.6GW, Xiluodu is one of the biggest hydroelectric projects being built anywhere on earth.

Meanwhile a “cascade” of dozens more dams are planned or already under construction elsewhere on the 1429-mile river.

“The Jinsha is number one right now,” said Grumbine, the author of a book about the fight to protect another of Yunnan’s rivers. “We are talking about 30 [dams], something like that, and I would think most of them will be built.”

The Daily Telegraph was the first western news organisation to be given access to Xiluodu, a 285.5m tall concrete colossus straddling the river border between Yunnan and Sichuan provinces.

Read more about the dams on the Jinsha River, Three Gorges, and hydropower in China.