Baihetan Hydropower Station, located at the junction of of Ningnan county, Liangshan prefecture, Sichuan province, and Qiaojia county, Zhaotong prefecture, Yunnan province, is the second cascaded hydropower station developed on the main stream of the lower reaches of Jinsha River, with such comprehensive benefits as power generation, flood control, sediment retaining, navigation and irrigation.
With the largest capacity of per hydroelectric unit, Baihetan Hydropower Station is the world’s largest project under construction. The normal water level of its reservoir is 825 m, with a total storage capacity of 20.6 billion m3. Its underground powerhouse is equipped with 16 hydroelectric units, with a gross installed capacity of 16 million kW and an average annual power generation of 62.443 billion kWh. The static investment of the project stands at 143.07 billion RMB. The construction of the main body of the project was initiated in 2013, with the first generarting unit commissioned in July 2021. The project is slated for full completion in December 2022. After completion, Baihetan Hydropower Station will become the 2nd largest in China after the Three Gorges Hydropower Station.
As a backbone project on Jinsha River, Baihetan Hydropower Station is the 2nd cascade among the four hydropower cascades (Wudongde, Baihetan, Xiluodu and Xiangjiaba) in the lower reaches of Jinsha River. It will join the ranks of Three Gorges Hydropower Station and Xiluodu Hydropower Station as a 10-million-kilowatt-class hydropower project. Baihetan Hydropower Station is about 182 km away from Wudongde dam site and 195 km away from Xiluodu dam site, with a controlled catchment area of 430,300 km2.
During the construction process, six technical indicators of Baihetan Hydropower Station rank first in the world, including the capacity of single hydro-turbine generating unit, the scale of underground cavern groups, the size of the cylindrical tailrace surge chamber, the seismic-resistence parameters of a 300-meter high arch dam, the scale of pressure-free flood discharging tunnel groups, and the adoption rate of low-heat concrete throughout the whole dam body.
Baihetan Hydropower Station is composed of a dam, flood discharge and energy dissipation facilities, water diversion and power generation systems as well as other structures. The dam is a concrete double-curved arch one, with the dam height of 289 m. The arch crest thickness is 14 m and the concrete pouring volume of about 8.03 million m3. Besides, it is fixed with eight China’s home-made million-kilowatt-class power units on both left and right banks. As the first batch of million-kilowatt-class power units in the world, they are super-giant mixed-flow hydro-turbine generating units, claimed as the “Mount Everest” of the world’s hydropower industry. It is estimated that a single million-kilowatt-class unit in Baihetan weighs more than 8,000 tons, equivalent to the weight of the Eiffel Tower in France.
The construction of Baihetan Hydropower Station creates enormous opportunities for local social and economic development, dramatically improving infrastructure situation and boosting related industries in the forthcoming future. Meanwhile, the project has far-reaching impacts on the power transmission from West China to East China, driving economic development in western China.