Category: Yangtze Power

Climate change a dam smokescreen?

(November 20, 2012) Poyang, China’s largest freshwater lake, is experiencing a dramatic drop in water levels as a result of drought exacerbated by the effects of ongoing climate change — a dry-up that began in earnest in 2003, according to a report published by China’s state-run Xinhua news agency earlier this year. What the report doesn’t acknowledge is that 2003 also coincides with the year reservoir filling began at the Three Gorges mega-dam 500-km upstream of Poyang, on the Yangtze River. Responding separately to Xinhua’s claims, noted Chinese geologist and environmentalist Fan Xiao points to operations at the dam, as well as rapid development of the Yangtze’s upper reaches, as the culprits behind the distressing changes Poyang and other Yangtze tributaries are experiencing: expect worse, he warns, but not because of climate change.

Big, complicated, hard to manage

(September 1, 2012) The staggering costs of China’s Three Gorges Dam—the displacement of 1.7 million and counting, and a price tag six-times the original estimate—are well known. But the enormous project’s complicated operational demands are largely unknown, and they promise to get more vexing as more dams are built upstream. Power magazine looks at the complexities of delivering power from such large-scale hydropower plants trans-region, trans-province, and trans-basin and the pressing need for peak regulation, frequency regulation, and emergency reserves for hydropower plants.

China’s new mega-dam is a mega-problem

(July 12, 2012) Almost 20 years in the making, China’s Three Gorges mega-dam was declared complete on July 4 when the last of its 32 generators went online, 10 years after the first turbine went into operation. There is no end in sight, however, for costs associated with the vast and controversial project, which remains closer to disaster than triumph.

Dam madness

(July 4, 2012) As the fierce struggle between China’s hydropower industry and environmental conservationists rages anew, what has become clear in the meanwhile: the country’s rivers cannot sustain the current pace of development.

Things you may not know about the history of the Three Gorges Dam Project

(February 8, 2012) Admissions of trouble at Three Gorges Dam by China’s powerful State Council last spring, left many wondering how the behemoth dam ever got off the drawing board. Now, in a first, behind the scenes, account of raw power politics, Guo Yushan from China’s Transition Institute describes how Three Gorges critics were silenced, and China’s power mandarins maneuvered, to build the world’s largest and most troubled dam. Read this translation by Probe International of the article that went viral on China’s Internet.

The Yangtze runs dry

(August 18, 2011) “The Yangtze River will run dry” because engineers have gone wild, building so many dams that the amount of water needed to fill all the reservoirs along the Yangtze would exceed the flow of the river. So says “A Mighty River Runs Dry,” a new study by geologist Fan Xiao of the Sichuan Geology and Mineral Bureau in China. Because there isn’t enough water in the Yangtze to fill all the dams to their designed capacity during the impoundment period each year, “an enormous waste of money” will result, with potentially staggering losses to China’s economy, 40 per cent of which comes from agriculture, fishing, industry and shipping along the Yangtze.