Despite warnings of environmental damage, China clinched a milestone by operating the world’s second-largest hydropower station on Monday.
The 289-metre (948 feet) high Baihetan Hydropower Station in southwest China, second in the world only to the country’s Three Gorges Dam in terms of power generation, began partial operation Monday morning, state media reported.
The Hydropower Station can meet the power needs of almost 5 lakh people for an entire year which is built at a total capacity of 16000 megawatts.
The dam encapsulates into a deep, narrow gorge on the upper section of the Yangtze, China’s longest river, on the earthquake-prone border between Yunnan and Sichuan provinces.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is optimistic that the plant would be able to “make greater contributions toward achieving the goals of carbon peaking and carbon neutrality,” in a congratulatory message published by the government.
The Baihetan dam’s trial run on Monday coincides with celebrations of the Communist Party’s centenary this week.
Environmental groups have warned for years that dam-building disrupts the habitats of rare plants and animals, including the critically endangered Yangtze Finless Porpoise.
Dam construction on the river has changed the composition of sediment in the water, causing “large-scale hydrophysical and human health risk affecting the Yangtze River Basins downstream,” scientists wrote in a paper published in Elsevier’s Science of the Total Environment journal this month.
The massive engineering projects have also displaced hundreds of thousands of local communities and prompted concern in neighbouring countries.
The country has been on a hydropower building spree in recent years as it races to meet the ever-growing energy needs of the world’s largest population.
INPUTS FROM NDTV