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Thursday, April 12, 2001, updated at 07:20(GMT+8)

China Prepares for Gigantic New Power Station

China is busy preparing for another world-class hydroelectric power station, second in size only to the mammoth Three Gorges Power Project.

The Xiaowan Hydroelectric Power Station is to be built on the middle reaches of the Lancang River, the fifth longest in China.

Construction of the Xiaowan station will start this year, Yunnan Provincial Governor Li Jiating announced here recently.

The new power plant will be the third large power project on the Lancang River, after the 1.5-million-kw one at Manwan and the 1.35-million-kw one at Dachaoshan. It will have six generating units with a designed capacity of 4.2 million kw.

The major feature of the station will be a concrete hyperbolic arch dam that stands 292 meters high, which is equivalent to the height of a 100-story skyscraper.

The dam, believed to be the highest dam in the world, will be able to hold 15 billion cubic meters of water, the combined amount of all reservoirs in Yunnan, said Kou Wei, general manager of the Lancang River Water Resources Development Co. Ltd.

Lancang River, which rises in the Tanggula Mountains on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, flows for a total of 4,500 kilometers from Tibet to Xishuang Banna in Yunnan Province, joins the Mekong River, and then flows into Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and other countries.

China will build six new hydroelectric power stations on the middle and lower reaches of the Lancang River this year in addition to the Manwan and Dachaoshan power stations. The combined installed capacity of the eight power stations will be 15.55 million kw.

The cost of the Xiaowan power station is estimated at 32 billion yuan, the largest sum spent on a project of this kind in Yunnan in the past 50 years. Tens of thousands of workers will be needed to build roads, bridges and other auxiliary projects.

The first generating unit of the project is expected to start operation in 2010, and the last one will be finished in 2013. By then, its annual power output will be 18.9 billion kwh, half of which will be transmitted to Guangdong and other provinces in coastal areas.

Xiaowan station is an important part of China's strategy of transmitting electricity from resources-rich western areas to power-shortage Shanghai Municipality, Guangdong, Jiangsu and other eastern provinces.

Yunnan this year will provide 900,000 kwh of electricity to Guangdong Province. The figure is to climb to eight million kwh in 15 years.

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China is busy preparing for another world-class hydroelectric power station, second in size only to the mammoth Three Gorges Power Project.

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