This article will discuss hydropower in China, the world&’s second-largest economy. Investigate the ambitions and strategy of the Chinese government and shed light on key projects of interest and the key players along with the challenges of deploying the renewable power source. Hydropower is crucial in China’s quest to attain net zero by 2060.

Ambition & Strategy

According to China’s National Energy Administration, the country intends to install at least 62 Gigawatt of hydropower by 2025 and about 120 Gigawatt by 2030 from 50 Gigawatt in November 2022.

Biggest Hydropower plants:

  • Three Gorges Dam, located in the Xilingxia Gorge on the Yangtze River in Hubei province, was built and operated by the China Three Gorges Corporation with a $30 billion investment. Construction began in 1997 and was completed by 2008 with an 18,300-megawatt capacity. Expanded in 2011, and by 2012, its total capacity reached 22500 Megawatt or 22.5 Gigawatt, generating 85 Terawatt hours annually.
  • Baihetan hydropower project is on the Jinsha River in southwest China. The Jinsha River Chuanyun Hydropower Development Company spearheaded the development of this project, involving a substantial investment of $34 billion. Construction on this project commenced in 2017, and in September 2021, two
    turbines were in operation. Subsequently, it reached operational capacity in July 2022. It has a capacity of 16 Gigawatt, generating 60 billion terawatt-hours annually.
  • Xiluodu Dam, located on the Jinsha River, was built by China Three Gorges Corporation with a $6.2 billion investment. The construction concluded in 2013, with operations commencing in 2014. It has a capacity of 13.8 Gigawatt generating 64 billion kilowatt hours annually.
  • The Wudongde hydropower project is situated on the Yangtze River and was developed by China Three Gorges Corporation, involving an investment of $18.6 billion. In 2015 the construction commenced, and it reached its completion in 2021. It has a capacity of 10.2 Gigawatt, generating 39 billion kilowatt hours annually.
  • Xiangjiaba hydropower plant, located on the Jinsha River, was built by China Three Gorges Corporation with a $6.3 billion investment. Construction began in 2006, and four units were operational in 2013 and fully commissioned in 2015. It has a capacity of 6.4 Gigawatt.

Key Players

  • China Huaneng Corporation, based in Beijing, is a state-owned electricity generation enterprise.
  • China Datang Corporation, based in Beijing, is a state-owned power generation enterprise, and it is engaged in providing electricity and heat energy.
  • State Power Investment Corporation, based in Beijing, operates power generation businesses such as hydro, thermal power and nuclear energy.
  • China Energy Investment Corporation, based in Beijing, is a state-owned mining and energy company.
  • China Three Gorges Corporation, based in Beijing, is a state-owned power company engaged in hydropower, wind and solar projects.


  • Natural factors such as irregular rainfall, for example, the water intake of Jinanqiao water station is 7 to 8 times the regular intake during flood season.
  • The long construction period impedes the adoption of hydropower in electricity generation. An example is the slow pace at which the transmission line is attached to new dams, impeding electricity generation.
  • Market orientation harms social factors. For example, building hydropower plants leads to resettlement and environmental protection cost is also added, which results in delays in construction projects.
  • Hydropower resources tend to be abundant in regions with low energy demands, while the regions with high energy needs often lack sufficient natural resources for hydropower generation. So, adequate infrastructure is
    needed to transfer excess supply to the regions which need energy.


In this article, I have talked about China’s ambition and strategy to promote hydropower, the largest hydropower plant in the country. Top five key players responsible for boosting hydropower capacity. Finally, I have also discussed the challenges hindering growth in China.

End Notes

Related Articles


Lorem Ipsum

Lorem Ipsum

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s,