Largest Base for Clean Energy Comes at a High Cost
China's massive Three Gorges dam completed its connection to the power grid, costing the country over £38bn and the displacement of at least 1.3 million people.
The project's 32nd 700-megawatt unit installed on Wednesday brought the dam's total capacity up to 22.5 gigawatts (GW), accounting for 11 percent of China's total hydroelectric capacity.
"The complete operation of all the generators makes the Three Gorges dam the world's largest hydropower project, and the largest base for clean energy," Zhang Cheng, general manager of the project's operator, China Yangtze Power, said in a ceremony.
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The dam's construction began in 1994, with its first generating unit connected to the grid by 2003. Xinhua, the official state news agency, reports that the dam has saved nearly 200m tonnes of coal per year. However, it ended up costing four times the original estimate, not including the money spent on “follow-up work.”
Additionally, some 1.3 million residents have been forced to relocate as the risk of earthquakes and landslides have increased in the region.
Despite the soaring costs, handling the displaced residents and protecting the environment, the government is committed to hydropower. Between 2011 and 2015, Beijing is looking at bringing another 140GW of hydropower capacity on line to meet aggressive renewable energy targets.
Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition
The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.
The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).
This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.
In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.
The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.