China's Dams

Drowning the Tiger Leaping Gorge

David Stanway, Interfax
January 8, 2008

Lijiang: Even in the biting cold, thousands of tourists still take the treacherous daily journey through the mountains from Lijiang to see the Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of China’s most renowned attractions. However, the entire site could vanish within a few years. …

But the country’s power companies are already drawing up plans that will change the area forever. …

And the problem is that hydropower is not actually a reliable replacement for coal-fired generators, Yu believes. Hydropower is seasonal, he said, but the province is committed to supplying other regions even during the dry winter. When the currents of its rivers are not strong enough to maintain the turbines at full capacity, the province will have to fall back on its thermal power plants.

“The more hydropower has been developed, the more thermal power is developed,” he said. “Yunnan has also had to build a lot of thermal power capacity in order to supplement hydropower during the dry season.”

“For example, the environmental impact assessment report of the Dachaoshan hydropower station, which was supported by the Asia Development Bank, said that once the power was delivered to Kunming, the thermal power plants in Kunming could be closed, and Kunming’s environmental pollution could be reduced by a great amount.

“In fact, after the power was delivered to Kunming, it has not replaced thermal power, and those thermal power plants have not been closed,” Yu said. “Actually, they have needed to produce even more power.” …
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