A milestone for China’s clean energy drive was achieved on 21 December 2022 with news that the 16GW Baihetan hydropower project – a key project for the country – was fully operational. The project boasts 16 x 1GW generating units, the world’s largest in terms of capacity for a single unit.

The Baihetan hydropower project, located downstream from the Jinsha River on the border of Yunnan and Sichuan provinces in southwestern parts of China, transmits electricity from the resource-rich west to energy-consuming regions in east China, contributing to the utilization of clean energy targets of the country. The project can generate 62.4 billion kWh of electricity a year, enough to meet the annual electricity needs of approximately 75 million people while saving approximately 19.68 million tonnes of standard coal and reducing CO2 emissions by approximately 51.6 million tonnes.

The start of operation of No 9 unit at the plant in December marked the full completion of the project which started with approval of the feasibility study by the National Development and Reform Commission of China back in 2010. Construction works on the project were started in August 2017 and the first turbine unit was installed in January 2019.

The Baihetan project was developed by Jinsha River Chuanyun Hydropower Development Company, which is a joint venture between China Three Gorges (CTG) Corporation (70%), Sichuan Energy Investment Group (15%), and Yunnan Energy Investment Group (15%).

The project involved the construction of a concrete double-curvature arch dam with a crest elevation of 834m and a crest width of 13m. It comprises two underground powerhouses, one each on the left and right banks of the dam.

The impoundment level of the dam is 825m, while the reservoir capacity is 20.627 billion cubic metres. The dam is designed to have a regulation storage capacity of 10.43bcm and a flood control storage capacity of 7.5bcm.

The Baihetan Dam has six floodgate structures and three spillway tunnels. The flood discharge capacity of the project is 42,346m³/sec.

CTG collaborated with Dongfang Electric Machinery, a power generation equipment supplier based in China, to develop the first 1,000MW turbine generator for the project. HBIS Wusteel was contracted to supply the turbine stay rings, generator lid, and control rings.

Dongfang will supply eight turbine generator units to be installed in the left bank powerhouse of the Baihetan project, while Harbin Electric Machinery Factory was contracted to supply the remaining eight units of the right bank powerhouse.

Caterpillar supplied machinery used in the earthworks of the project.

Commercial operations

A number of other projects across Asia have recently entered commercial operation. In mid-January, Mitsubishi Materials Corporation announced it had commenced commercial operation of the 10.326MW Komatagawa New power plant, the first new hydroelectric power plant in Japan’s Akita Prefecture for 69 years.

Komatagawa New Power Plant was planned and constructed in order to increase the power supply through efficient operation of the Komatagawa No.1, No.2 and No.4 Power Plants on the Komata River water system centred on Moriyoshi Dam. By efficiently taking in water previously released as unused energy, the power generation capacity of the Komata River water system is increased by 2860 kW, enabling an increase in annually generated power of approximately 13,400 MWh. With the completion of the Komatagawa New Power Plant, the use of the Komatagawa No.1 and No.2 were discontinued in October 2022.

The Komatagawa New Power Plant takes water directly from the outlet of the Komatagawa No.4 Power Plant directly under Moriyoshi Dam and transfers it through the 8.5km headrace tunnel to secure an effective head of about 90m and generate 10,326kW of power. All generated electricity will be supplied using the feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme for renewable energy.

The power plant was constructed using electricity from the existing hydroelectric power plants to minimize the environmental impact.

Also in January, Thailand’s EGAT announced it had started commercial operation at the  Pha Chuk Dam Hydropower Plant. Mr. Somwang Puangbangpo, Governor of Uttaradit Province and Mr. Boonyanit Wongrukmit, Governor of Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) jointly presided over the opening ceremony of Pha Chuk Dam Hydropower Plant in Mueang District, Uttaradit Province on 18 January. Mr. Somwang Puangbangpo said that Pha Chuk Dam Hydropower Plant is an example of water resources management for optimal benefits. It will have multiple benefits including for agriculture and energy. Apart from enhancing the power system security of northern provinces, the power plant is expected to become a tourist attraction and offer a new energy learning centre for people in Uttaradit Province and nearby areas.

Boonyanit Wongrukmit said that Pha Chuk Dam Hydropower Plant is an outcome of the collaboration between EGAT and the Royal Irrigation Department to develop hydropower plants downstream of irrigation dams. The 14MW power plant houses 2 generators, each of which has a generating capacity of 7 MW. It started commercial operation on September 30, 2023, to enhance the power system security of the country and reduce CO2 emissions of 45,000 tons/year to help mitigate global warming. Moreover, the project supports the country’s energy policy and drives Thailand to achieve Carbon Neutrality while taking care of society, community, and environment.

In Turkey, the 558MW Yusufeli Dam project in northern Artvin province was officially inaugurated in November by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Yusufeli dam and hydroelectric power project is located on the Çoruh River, upstream of the Borçka, Muratli, and Deriner hydroelectric power plants. The project comprises a 275m tall double curvature concrete arch dam and a power plant equipped with three 186MW vertical-axis Francis turbine units. Each turbine unit is designed to operate at a rated head of 191m and a rated discharge of 107m3/sec.

The Yusufeli Dam created a 33.63km2 reservoir area with a total storage capacity of approximately 2.2 billion cubic metres.  The maximum crest elevation and the crest length of the dam are 715m and 490m respectively.

The dam project also involves four balanced cantilever viaducts, including the 644m-long Tekkale viaduct, the 695m-long Yusufeli viaduct, the 340m-long Yusufeli dam viaduct, and the 530m-long Silenkar viaduct, along with the construction of 110km of roads, 45 tunnels, 22 bridges, and 92 culverts.

The other components of the project include the main power transformers, a 380kV switchyard, along measuring and protection equipment.

Projects in Pakistan

The 800MW Mohmand dam project on the River Swat in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province is likely to be completed in 2026, the Water and Power Development (WAPDA) has announced, confirming that construction is underway on all 11 sites at the project.

During a recent site visit, Chairman WAPDA Engineer Lt Gen Sajjad Ghani (Retd) was told that the diversion system is scheduled for completion in November this year, with the project looking likely to be completed in 2026.

The Chairman reviewed construction work on different sites, which included the re-regulation pond, main dam, spillway, diversion tunnels, access tunnel, power intake, powerhouse, switch yard and irrigation system etc. He was briefed that most of the damage caused to the diversion system during last summer’s flood was repaired by December. At present, the construction work is progressing ahead on all 11 sites of the project, day and night on the sites where feasible.

Mohmand Dam is a multi-purpose project which will store 1.2 MAF of water and help mitigate floods in Peshawar, Charsadda and Nowshera. Besides supplementing 160,000 acres of existing land, it will also irrigate 18,237 acres of new land in Mohmand and Charsadda. The installed generation capacity of Mohmand Dam is 800MW. It will contribute 2.86 billion units of low-cost and environment-friendly hydel electricity per annum to the National Grid. The project will also provide 300 million gallons of water per day to Peshawar for drinking purposes. The estimated annual benefits of the Project stand at Rs. 51.6 billion. A sum of Rs. 4.5 billion has been earmarked for confidence-building measures (CBM) in the project area for socio-economic development of the locals.

Another project for which construction is underway in earnest in Pakistan is the 4320MW Dasu hydropower project.  The critical diversion system which forms a key part of the project in Pakistan is to be completed in May this year, with power generation expected at the project by the end of 2026, developer WAPDA has said.

The Dasu Hydropower Project is planned to be completed in two stages. At present, WAPDA is constructing stage I with an installed generation capacity of 2160MW and annual energy generation of 12 billion units of low-cost and environment-friendly electricity. Stage II, once implemented, will also provide 9 billion units to the National Grid.

On completion of both stages, Dasu will produce 21 billion units on average. WAPDA is spending Rs. 17.34 billion on schemes relating to resettlement, environmental management and social development in the project area. About 3722 jobs, including 1945 for locals, have so far been created, which will increase to around 8000 during peak construction of the project.

The project is being by WAPDA on the River Indus upstream of Dasu town in the Upper Kohistan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Milestone in Malaysia

A key milestone for the 1285MW Baleh Hydroelectric Project was achieved in September last year with the beginning of works for the Concrete-Faced Rockfill Dam (CFRD).  To date, the project’s construction has reached 33% completion. The commencement of the main dam’s construction work represents a significant milestone in the project’s progress. Despite setbacks faced especially over the movement restriction orders of the COVID-19 pandemic such as skilled manpower shortages and high water levels hampering safe work conditions, the project has clocked a series of major milestones.

Commenting on the project, Datu Haji Sharbini Suhaili, Group Chief Executive Officer said: “Baleh HEP is one of Sarawak’s largest State infrastructure projects and it is Sarawak Energy’s largest hydropower project so far. Timely completion of this project by 2027 is crucial for securing the energy capacity required for future renewable demand for Sarawak and the region. We have been able to record good progress thanks to the support of the government and relevant agencies as well as the focus of our Project Delivery team and our contractors.”

The Diversion Tunnels were safely completed In October 2020, diverting water from upstream Batang Baleh adjacent to the confluence of the Putai River through 1.2km long dual concrete-lined tunnels running parallel to each other to allow for the construction of the main dam. Prior to the commencement of main dam works, another major milestone was reached in July 2022 when Sarawak Energy completed the package for the Jetty, Road and Bridges.

Pramod said: “Meticulous planning, consideration and timely execution has led the team to this point where we are able to place the first section of rock – a critical component of the project as it means we are now beginning to work on the main dam. The movement of long lines of trucks filled with rocks of predetermined size and quality from the quarry site to the dam site will remain a significant activity over the next 4 years to enable safe and timely completion and commissioning of the project by 2027.”

He explained: “We managed to overcome our challenges through a strong focus, resilience, and collaboration amongst the project management team working closely with our contractors China Gezhouba Group Company Limited (CGGC) and Sinohydro Corporation, and all our stakeholders including local authorities and community. We were able to re-strategise and quickly make the necessary changes to adapt to the ever-changing environment and to maintain our momentum.”

New orders

With regards to projects in development, Andritz recently announced it has received an order from CH Karnchang (Lao) Company Ltd to supply the electromechanical equipment for the newly constructed Luang Prabang run-of-river hydropower plant in Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Commissioning is scheduled for the end of 2029.

Andritz’s scope includes design, manufacturing, supply, transportation, erection, testing and commissioning of seven large Kaplan turbine-generator units (203MW each), and three smaller units (18MW each) including transformers, governors, control, excitation and protection and SCADA systems, as well as the electrical power and associated auxiliary systems.

With a nominal capacity of 1470MW, the Luang Prabang plant will have an annual output of about 6500GWh and will provide renewable energy to Thailand’s electricity network. The state-of-the-art turbine-generator units will also feature oil-less turbine runners and a fish-friendly design.

Back in December, the Heavy Civil Infrastructure Business of Larsen & Toubro secured an order from renewable energy firm Greenko Group for the development of an off-stream pumped storage project in Madhya Pradesh, India.

A consortium led by Larsen & Toubro is to execute the civil and hydromechanical works of the Gandhisagar Pumped Storage Project under a stringent timeline of 30 months.

Upon completion, the project will be one of the largest clean energy projects of its kind in India. It envisages the creation of an upper reservoir near Khemla block village while the existing Gandhisagar reservoir will be the lower reservoir. The project involves constructing an upper dam, intake structure with approach channel, steel-lined buried penstock/pressure shaft (Vertical & Horizontal), surface powerhouse, draft tube tunnel, tailrace outlet structure and tailrace channel.

Working with other renewables

In December, members of the community of Thailand’s Khon Kaen Province attended a public hearing on plans for a hydro-floating solar hybrid project at Ubol Ratana Dam. The meeting was held by The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) and Consultant of Technology Co., Ltd. (COT) and was chaired by Mr. Sutep Maneechot, Vice Governor of Khon Kaen Province.

Sutep Maneechot said that this project, which will generate electricity from clean energy by combining floating solar panels with hydropower, will become a learning centre for renewable energy and a new tourist destination in Khon Kaen Province. The project will enhance power system security at the regional level as well as reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

During the meeting, Ms. Duangkamol Phaprommarat, a COT environmental specialist shared the project details, environmental impact assessment, and measures to prevent, solve, and monitor environmental impact in order to build understanding about the project. The meeting was an opportunity for stakeholders to express their opinions, suggestions, and concerns for the improvement of the project.

The Hydro-floating Solar Hybrid Project at Ubol Ratana Dam is also equipped with a battery energy storage system (BESS) to enhance the stability of the power system with a generating capacity of 24MW. The project supports the growing economy in Khon Kaen Province and the region, and increases the proportion of electricity generation from renewable energy, driving Thailand toward carbon neutrality. Moreover, it reduces electricity imports and utilizes the reservoir area for maximum benefit. The commercial operation date of the project will be within 2023.


In December, it was announced that the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) and Cabanglasan Hydropower Corporation (CHC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Repower Energy Development Corporation (REDC), signed a P2.6-billion loan agreement to partially finance the construction of a 15MW hydropower plant in the Province of Bukidnon, that will help advance the country’s climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.

Under the LANDBANK Renewable Energy Program, the run-of-river hydropower plant will be developed on the Pulangi River in Barangay Lumbayao, Valencia City, to sustainably improve the quality and reliability of energy supply in nearby cities and towns in the Province.

The loan signing was led by LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo and Pure Energy Holdings Corporation and CHC Chairman Dexter Y. Tiu on 6 December 2022 at the LANDBANK Plaza in Manila. They were joined by REDC President and CHC Director Eric Peter Y. Roxas, CHC President Johnson A. Sanhi, Jr., and from LANDBANK, Senior Vice Presidents Celeste A. Burgos and Lucila E. Tesorero, among other Bank officers.

“Through the years, LANDBANK has collaborated with REDC and its subsidiaries towards advancing clean, sustainable, and reliable sources of renewable energy. We actively support local projects that aim to secure a safe and sustainable future for the country, as part of our broader commitment to help build sustainable and resilient communities,” said President Borromeo.

Upon its completion in 2025, the hydropower plant is estimated to power around 130,000 households in 15 municipalities in the Province. The stable energy supply is likewise expected to benefit Bukidnon’s local economy, particularly its tourism, agriculture and industrial sectors.

“In just six short years of development, our group has brought 10 renewable energy power plants to operations – of which six are run-of-river hydropower, contributing around 50MW of clean energy to the grid. We have several hydropower projects under construction and in the pipeline, which we intend to bring to operations in the near future to help the country transition into a clean renewable, energy phase,” said REDC President Roxas.

“We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the financial institutions who stood by us and provided project finance like LANDBANK, led by President Cecilia Borromeo, for their trust and confidence in the Pure Energy-REDC Group time and again,” Roxas added.

In January, it was announced that the World Bank has approved $15 million in grant funding for a project to strengthen the financial, commercial, environmental and social frameworks at Tajikistan’s Rogun Dam.

The grant financing will come from the International Development Association for the Technical Assistance for Financing Framework for the Rogun Hydropower Project in Tajikistan (TA).

The Rogun hydropower project, currently under construction, has the potential to generate significant economic, social, and environmental benefits for Tajikistan and other countries in the Central Asia region if it develops in a financially, environmentally, and socially sustainable manner, said the Bank. Once completed, Rogun will be critical in helping Tajikistan to meet its domestic energy demands, especially during wintertime, and to support neighbouring countries through the export of surplus electricity.

The IDA grant will finance the hiring of experts on dam safety and environmental and social (E&S) frameworks to help with necessary improvements that will bring the project in line with current hydropower industry requirements and align with the World Bank’s Environmental and Social Framework. The TA project will also be instrumental in increasing Rogun’s benefits to a larger number of people through a benefit-sharing mechanism whereby a portion of the project’s revenues would be channelled to various socio-economic programs and initiatives.

“Our technical support aims to improve the Rogun project’s development impact through greater sharing of the project’s revenues to benefit the people of Tajikistan, improvement of the project’s environmental and social performance, and expansion of clean electricity,” said Tatiana Proskuryakova, World Bank Country Director for Central Asia.“This support builds on our current investments in Tajikistan’s energy sector, which focus on improving electricity supply reliability for people and the economy, strengthening the governance of the sector, promoting financial sustainability, and increasing its transparency.”

The TA project would also improve the readiness of the Rogun project to increase the financing required for its completion. In particular, it would help to update the financing plan to ensure that annual spending on the project does not create macro-fiscal risks for the country and that the HPP has a reliable commercial framework for the sale of electricity to domestic consumers and for exports.

This article first appeared in International Water Power magazine.