søndag 5. juli 2020

China’s Era of Mega-Dams Is Ending as Solar and Wind Power Rise

It’s the beginning of the end for the era of mega-dam building in China. China Three Gorges Corp. on Monday turned on the first set of generators at the massive Wudongde hydropower plant, deep in the mountains of Yunnan province. About 170 kilometers (106 miles) downstream on the Jinsha River sits Baihetan, the last of its kind, scheduled to go into operation next year.

At full run, the two sites will produce more electricity than every power plant in The Philippines combined. They’re the final two mega-dams in a Chinese construction boom that goes back more than half a century, one that became increasingly mired in controversy over the trade-off between the benefits of the renewable energy and flood prevention and the social and environmental costs.

Now, China’s hydro industry is down-shifting toward smaller projects and pumped storage. Engineers have run out of the easiest locations to power massive sets of turbines and the falling cost of rival energy sources such as solar mean it isn’t worth moving on to more challenging locations.