Beijing June 27 2023: The world's largest and highest-altitude hydro-solar power plant, which generates power through a water-light complementary manner, entered full operation in China on Sunday.
For the first time, the Kela photovoltaic power station boasts of an installed capacity scale of 1 million kilowatts for a hydro-solar power grid. It can fully charge 15,000 electric vehicles with a range of 550 kilometers in just one hour.
The plant, situated in the Yalong River Basin of the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Garze in southwest China's Sichuan Province's Yajiang County, will cover the needs of 700,000 households for a whole year with its annual generating capacity of 2 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh).
"This is equivalent to 600,000 tonnes of standard coal and will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 1.6 million tonnes," Yang Zhiwei, the construction project manager, PowerChina Chengdu Engineering Co., (PowerChina Chengdu), told China Media Group (CMG).
With a reliance on sunlight to generate electricity, the power generation of PV stations fluctuates between day and night amid weather events. The hydropower component can help to regulate all instability in such supply manner, therefore, providing stable and high-quality clean energy.
How big is Kela?
The Kela PV power plant is next to National Highway 318, a key transport route linking Sichuan and the neighboring Xizang Autonomous Region.
With an area exceeding 16 million square meters, it is bigger than 2,000 standard football fields.
The plant is built at an altitude of around 4,600 meters, which is equal to the altitude of the Ali region in Xizang, the Third Pole in the world, and 1,000 meters above the altitude of the city of Lhasa.
A total of 527,000 photovoltaic foundation piles are installed in the power station, which has the same weight as 222 C919 aircraft, China's first domestically constructed large passenger plane that just completed its initial commercial flight.
If these photovoltaic piles were connected, the total length would exceed 1,400 kilometers, which is 11 times the total length of the Beijing-Tianjin Railway.
Nearly 50,000 tonnes of steel were used for the PV powerhouse, enough to build another grand venue of the National Stadium (Bird's Nest) which held the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics opening ceremony.
More than 2 million photovoltaic modules were assembled, and the components can cover the area of three Beijing Daxing International Airports, with a transportation distance of 2,400 kilometers, spanning half of China.
Construction of this grand power station has been quick and efficient. Despite encountering extreme cold weather, the project team undertook and fulfilled the tough task in just six months.
To the highest efficiency, a total of 7,000 PV bracket foundations were installed within 24 hours, together with 1,200 sets of PV brackets, 33,000 pieces of PV modules and 30 box transformers.
Grand project, lofty aspirations
As China strives to ensure energy security and achieve its dual carbon goals, Kela is the first hydropower station built during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025) on the Yalong River Clean Energy Base.
The Design and Research Institute of the PowerChina Chengdu began project planning for Kela in 2016, with construction starting in July 2022.
Being the first phase project of the Yalong River's Lianghekou Hydropower Station, which was put into operation in March with a total installed capacity of three million kilowatts, electricity generated by Kela will be connected to the Lianghekou and then integrated into the power grid.
The two will help to shape a grand renewable energy base.
Upon completion, the Yalong River Clean Energy Base, with an installed capacity exceeding 100 million kilowatts and annual power generation of around 300 billion kWh, will be sufficient to serve 100 million households for a year.
In addition, the project will ultimately emerge into one of the world's largest green, clean, and renewable energy bases, leading to achieve the goals of peak carbon emissions and carbon neutrality, optimizing national energy structure, and boosting industries including agriculture, tourism, and transportation.