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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Tibetan mega-dam begins operation

As we think about histories and traditions around holidays, including this one, it is good to see hydropower, a very old source of electricity, continuing to add capacity to our systems. However, as we see here in China, bordering India, the damning of rivers is still controversial and potentially causes more environmental harm than it creates clean energy

Also, as here in New England, there's opposition to long transmission lines, which very much disturbs the natural landscape.  

Hydro can be a very good, consistent form of power.  The industry supports good jobs, too. Our hope is the technology is good and the dam does not change the flow of the river into needed agricultural areas in India.  It is hard to undo a 1,6b (US) project.

Chinese state media said the Zangmu Hydropower Station in Tibet is now in operation.
BEIJING: China has begun generating electricity from Tibet's biggest ever hydropower project, state-run media reported, the latest dam development on Himalayan rivers which has stoked fears in neighbouring India.

The first generating unit of the 9.6 billion yuan (US$1.6 billion) Zangmu Hydropower Station, which stands more than 3,300 metres above sea level, went into operation on Sunday (Nov 23), China's official Xinhua news agency said.

The dam on the Yarlung Zangbo river - known as the Brahmaputra in India, where it is a major waterway - will be 116 metres high when completed next year, according to reports. It will have a total generating capacity of 510,000 kilowatts, Xinhua said, making it the largest dam ever built on the Tibetan plateau.

"The hydropower station will solve Tibet's power shortage, especially in the winter," Xinhua quoted an official from the Tibet Electric Power Co as saying.

India has previously expressed concern about damming the Brahmaputra, one of the largest Himalayan rivers and a lifeline to some of India's remote, farm-dependent northeastern states.
India's foreign ministry last year urged China "to ensure that the interests of downstream states are not harmed by any activities in upstream areas" of the river, after state media reports that China planned several more dams there.

But a previous Indian foreign minister, S M Krishna, has said New Delhi had "ascertained from our own sources that this is a run of the river hydro-electric project which does not store water and will not adversely impact downstream areas in India".

Chinese media showed photographs of the dam, a large concrete structure which did not appear to have flooded an area significantly wider than the river's original span.

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