Twin-Row Hydropower Unit Begins Operation in China

The Lijiaxia Hydropower Station No. 5, one of the world’s biggest hydropower plants in a dual-row turbine layout, completed its 72-hour trial run and was declared officially operational on Oct. 10.

The Lijiaxia Hydropower Station on the Yellow River is China’s first and the world’s largest of its kind with turbines in a double-row layout. Courtesy: China Media Group

Completion of the fifth 400-MW unit at the Lijiaxia Hydropower Station brings the plant’s total capacity to 2 GW, said project owner China’s State Power Investment Corp. (SPIC). Construction of the plant, located on the Yellow River in central China’s Qinghai province, began in 1988. As of September 2023, the power station had cumulatively generated 14,248 TWh.

Unit 5 marks the first time China has installed a double-row turbine arrangement, it noted. Unit 5’s generator also “adopts a new domestically produced evaporative cooling scheme, which will further improve the power station’s peak regulation and frequency modulation capabilities,” it added. The technology was first tested on Unit 4.

The Lijiaxia hydropower station is the third level of a large hydropower station upstream of the Yellow River. Other projects on the cascade include the Longyangxia reservoir and the 4.2-GW Laxiwa hydropower station (the largest on the cascade). According to the International Hydropower Association (IHA), China added more than 15 GW to its conventional hydropower capacity and 8.7 GW of pumped storage hydro in 2022. Last year, the country brought online behemoth installations, such as the 16 GW Baihetan hydropower station—now the second largest hydropower project in the world—in December 2022.

Last year, China’s State Grid Corp. also announced the operation of the 3.6 GW Fengning Pumped Storage, one of the world’s biggest pumped storage projects. The project was developed in two 1.8-GW phases by State Grid subsidiary State Grid Xinyuan Co. “Fengning is reportedly the first hydroelectric facility in China to integrate variable-speed technology for efficient power generation,” IHA noted. “Not only is it the world’s biggest pumped storage project, but it also has 190 caverns, making it one of the largest underground factories in the world. It is also one of the world’s first pumped storage power stations connected to the flexible DC grid, due to a connection made to the Zhangbeirou DC converter station.”

Sonal Patel is a senior associate editor for POWER.

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