Construction of a pumped hydroelectric storage plant begins in China

Isbel Lázaro.

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central de almacenamiento hidroeléctrico

Inspenet, August 22, 2023.

This hydroelectric project in northwest China could have a significant impact on the production of renewable energy in the Gobi desert and the Tibetan plateau, according to the National Energy Administration (ANE).

Last Sunday, the construction of the largest pumped hydroelectric storage plant in the region, located in Qinghai province, began. This project is expected to reach a maximum installed capacity of 2.8 GW once it is operational.

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This plant will have two reservoirs and will function as a kind of large-scale battery. It will release water from an upper reservoir to generate electricity at times of high demand and pump water back using other renewable sources when demand is lower.

Its location is in Guinan county, east of Qinghai, and it will take advantage of the Laxiwa Reservoir on the Yellow River as its lower reservoir.

The Qinghai Warang plant will be managed by the State Grid Corporation, a state-owned electricity company. This project is part of a series of initiatives in the province with the purpose of improving the reliability of the electrical grid , as reported by the state news agency Xinhua.

Qinghai is the Chinese province with the largest installed renewable energy capacity. Its electrical grid is made up of 28% hydroelectric power and 63% combined solar and wind power .

It is estimated that by the year 2030, the province will reach more than 100 GW of installed capacity in wind and solar energy , which represents three and a half times its current capacity.

However, one of the main challenges of solar and wind energy lies in the asynchrony between the moments of greatest production and the peaks of energy consumption, which makes it necessary to store it to achieve a more adaptable use.

Pumped hydroelectric storage plant: an optimal alternative

In the province, pressure has grown to implement energy storage solutions that can satisfy moments of high demand. Pumped hydro storage is emerging as an optimal option for power grids that rely on solar and wind sources, as it can store and release power as needed, according to the International Hydropower Association.

Liu Yongqi, in charge of State Grid’s pumped storage and new energy division, said the plant would serve to fill a gap in pumped storage capacity in Qinghai, playing a significant role in providing constant and stable supply to the power grid.

The Warang plant will have a storage capacity of 20 million kilowatt-hours and will be connected to the Qinghai power system via a 750-kilovolt transmission line, according to the NEA.

Once the Warang power plant is operational, the storage capacity it will provide will result in a reduction equivalent to 4.55 million tons of annual carbon dioxide emissions, in addition to boosting the distribution of energy from solar power plants and surrounding wind farms, as Xinhua reports.

The construction of the Warang plant is underway in conjunction with three other projects, and together, these will contribute to improving access to electricity for 650,000 people, as Xinhua points out.


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