Massive projects move forward as groups celebrate World Hydropower Day

A new 16 GW hydropower project in China and a 9 GW plant in Indonesia are among several projects highlighted as part of World Hydropower Day, celebrated on October 11 as the hydropower sector notes the importance technology for global electricity generation. .

Baihetan Hydropower Station in China is being developed by Jinsha River Chuanyun Hydropower Development Co., a joint venture between China Three Gorges (CTG), Sichuan Energy Investment Group and Yunnan Energy Investment Group. The Baihetan plant is being built on the Jinsha River, a tributary of the Yangtze River in southwest China. It would be the second-largest hydroelectric dam in the world by generating capacity, behind only the 22.5 GW Three Gorges Dam in China when completed.

Executives of Indonesian power utility Kayan Hydro Energy (KHE) said last week that the group plans to start commercial operation of the first 900MW unit of the proposed 9GW Kayan Cascade power plant in 2026. Officials said the site on the island of Borneo is under development, with construction of a dam bypass channel due to begin next year. Andrew Suryali, managing director of KHE, said the project will represent an investment of $17.8 billion. KHE is developing the project in partnership with Japanese Sumitomo Corp.

Want to know more about hydroelectricity? The International Hydropower Association’s “The Power of Water” video series provides stunning images and insight into the importance of hydropower for decarbonization.

“While much of the attention is rightly focused on wind and solar scaling up, hydropower is the world’s largest source of renewable energy, generating about 16% of the electricity, almost as much as wind and solar combined,” said Eddie Rich, CEO of the International Hydropower Association (IHA). Rich said POWERFUL“As a dispatchable solution, [hydropower] is the only clean technology that can provide the flexible backup needed to activate wind and solar at the scale needed to meet net zero goals. According to forecasts released last year by the International Energy Agency, we will need to double global hydropower capacity by 2050 to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

Rich said, “Alarmingly, we still see hydroelectricity left out of the conversation” when it comes to decarbonizing the energy sector. “We will need to harness the complementary strengths of all renewables if we are to make net zero targets a reality. That’s why we’re working with progressive organizations around the world on World Hydropower Day to highlight the immense benefits of hydropower to society when developed responsibly.

Baihetan units already online

The Baihetan project spans Ningnan County in Sichuan Province, and Qiaojia County in Yunnan Province, China. Several units of the project are already online; the plant’s first two 1 GW turbines were commissioned in June last year. The last of 16 turbines was installed in May this year, and each unit should be operational by the end of the year.

Baihetan is the latest large-scale hydropower project from CTG, the group behind the 10.2GW Wudongde hydropower plant, chosen as the Powers Plant of the year earlier this year.

A contract signing ceremony for the Kayan Cascade project was held in Jakarta, Indonesia on October 6. Airlangga Hartarto, Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for the Economy, said the hydropower plant is part of Indonesia’s commitment to achieve net zero emissions from the power sector target by 2060. The The minister said the government aims for nearly a quarter of all electricity generation in Indonesia to come from renewables by 2026.

Main source of renewable energy

Hydropower officials, in promoting World Hydropower Day, note that more than 60% of all renewable electricity in the world is generated by hydropower. The technology is responsible for around 16% of the world’s total electricity generation from all sources. A variety of physical and virtual hydropower events are taking place around the world on Tuesday, part of an ongoing “We Can, With Hydropower” campaign to highlight the benefits of hydropower.

Baihetan Hydroelectric Power Station will be the second largest hydroelectric facility in the world when all its units are commissioned. The 16 GW hydropower plant is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2022. Source: China Three Gorges

World Hydropower Day organizers said POWERFUL that more than 2 million people worldwide are employed in the hydropower sector. They tout the benefits of the technology, including “providing clean, affordable power generation and energy security for grids increasingly reliant on rapidly growing solar and wind power. Wider benefits include supporting the decarbonization of industries, as well as protecting communities by providing water management infrastructure.

The campaign is led and led by the IHA, with support from a coalition of developers, operators, manufacturers and industry associations around the world.

“Hydroelectricity has provided a reliable, flexible and sustainable source of energy for over a century,” Rich said. “It has allowed economies around the world to prosper and living standards to rise. But we don’t often hear about the human benefits of hydropower. Sustainable hydroelectricity is a clean, green, modern and affordable source of energy. But it does more than just provide power. Wherever governments have supported hydropower development, it has brought jobs, social investments, water supply, flood and drought management, irrigation for food and ecotourism .

Drought impact

Drought conditions are limiting hydroelectric generation in many regions, including the western United States, with significant impacts in California. Countries like Brazil and China, home to several of the world’s largest hydroelectric dams, are also facing drought.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in an August 2022 report said, “Persistent excessive heat has increased evaporative demand which, combined with below normal precipitation, has exacerbated drought conditions in the Spain to Germany and from the British Isles to the Balkans. .”

Rich said POWERFUL“It’s funny and tragic that few people notice how dependent we are on hydropower until it might not be there anymore. The widespread droughts of 2022 remind governments that we must invest in our infrastructure today to protect future generations from the devastating effects of climate change. Hydroelectricity is a unique energy source in that it provides a range of non-energy services to society. Fundamentally, in the context of climate change, this includes the ability to manage our increasingly scarce water resources, such as flood control and drought mitigation.

“Governments whose power systems are most resilient to extreme weather events are those that have invested in building, upgrading and modernizing their hydroelectric assets,” Rich said. “There is also a need to improve transmission infrastructure to enable better interconnectivity between regions that are affected by climate change in different ways. Hydropower is the solution to drought, not the problem. The only way to bring global temperature rise under control is to accelerate the development of hydropower to support the growth of variable renewables like wind and solar.

Darrell Supervisor is associate editor of POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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