By Zhang Jinruo
Wudongde hydropower plant has commissioned its last power unit on June 16, signaling that all of its 12 power units, each with a capacity of 850 MW, are now on operation as scheduled, marking a new phase of operation and management.
The project is expected to make a great contribution to China’s efforts to see carbon dioxide emission peak before 2030 and go carbon neutral before 2060 and to build a clean, low-carbon, safe and efficient energy system. It will also push social and economic transformation based on efficient use of green and low-carbon growth.
In addition to power generation, Wudongde, located on the borders between Yunnan and Sichuan provinces, also delivers other benefits such as flood control, navigation and powering local economic and social development. Wudongde reservoir has an elevation of 975m in normal impoundment, a total storage capacity of 7.41 billion cubic meters and a flood control capacity of 2.44 billion cubic meters. The dam is capable of seasonal regulation of the water level with significant benefits in flood control.
Wudongde has six power units on the left and right banks respectively, each with a capacity of 850 MW, making them the world’s largest hydropower units in operation. The dam has a total installed capacity of 10.2 GW, which can generate an average of 38.91 billion kilowatt hours annually, equivalent to a reduction of 12.2 million tons in standard coal and 30.5 million tons of carbon dioxide.
The plant started construction on December 16, 2015 after receiving the green light and commissioned its first batch of power units on June 29, 2020.
Wudongde project has set eight world records during its construction, such as the world’s thinnest 300-meter high arch dam, and achieved 15 “world firsts” such as building the low-heat cement dam. It also made eight breakthroughs in hydropower engineering, such as assuming the flood control role during the construction. Multiple world-class challenges were tackled such as temperature control and crack prevention for large-volume concrete, large-scale excavation of holes and chambers underground, and 800 MPa high-strength steel welding. The dam recorded zero quality or safety accidents during its construction period, setting a benchmark in leading the global hydropower projects
Wudongde hydropower plant has produced 24 billion kWh clean electricity by June 16.