Despite acknowledging ecological implications, China's environmental ministry has given a go-ahead for a hydroelectric dam that will become the tallest of its kind in the country.
According to a Reuters report, the dam which will be built to a height of 314 metres is expected to cost around $4 billion and will serve the Shuangjiangkou hydropower project on the Dadu River in Southwestern Sichuan province. The dam will be built over 10 years by a subsidiary of state power firm Guodian Group.
The Chinese environmental ministry, in a statement issued earlier this week, acknowledged that an environmental impact assessment showed that the project will have negative impact on rare fish, its pawning, flora and affect protected local nature reserves.
The ministry reasons that counter measures will alleviate the effect. The measures will include protecting fish habitats, building fish ladders, increasing fish breeding and releasing. The project is also viewed as a threat for the growth of endangered flora like Chinese yew. The construction of seed banks to cultivate such rare species for plants artificially is suggested. Waste treatment facilities and relocation of the local residents are also under consideration.
Sinchuan is a highly earth-quake prone region. On May 12, 2008, an earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale killed as many as 80,000 people in the province. The province was affected by an earthquake this April as well. The project is expected to adversely impact downstream flows and also result in the submerging of at least six natural reserves.
On completion, the Sinhuan project will have a total installed capacity of 20 gigawatts (GW) with annual power generation to exceed seven million billion kilowatt-hours (kWh).
The main aim of China through this hydropower project is to raise the share of non-fossil fuels in its energy mix to 15 percent by 2020, up from 9.4 percent in 2011, for which the dam is expected to contribute significantly, according to the report.
After completion, the dam will be taller than the Three Gorges Dam which serves the world's biggest hydropower station on the Yangtze River and measures 185 metres. At 300 metres, Nurek dam in Tajikistanin Central Asia is the world's highest, though other dams are now under construction. The tallest dam in China now is Xiaowan Dam on the Lancang River, also known as Mekong.