July 2, 2024 at 2:27 pm

China Causing International Worries With Plans To Construct Largest Dam In The World On The Yarlung Zangbo River

by Michael Levanduski

Source: Daniel Doerfler/Shutterstock

China’s massive population and many advanced cities require a lot of electricity to function properly.

While they get a lot of bad press for continuing to use a huge number of coal-fired power plants, they are also the global leaders in hydroelectric energy production.

They already have more large dams in operation than any other country in the world (see the image below for the location of their current dams).

In addition, the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River is the largest capacity hydroelectric power station in the world. China, however, is not looking to just sit back and rely on their current infrastructure.

Source: GRanD databases/GOODD

In 2021, they announced a construction project for a new dam that will be built on the lower area of the Yarlung Zangbo River, which is in the foothills of the Himalayas.

The dam will take advantage of the potential energy that is in the river due to the fact that it goes along the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon, which is the deepest canyon in the world.

Once completed, the dam is expected to have triple the capacity of the current record-setting Three Gorges Dam (pictured above). This is being done as part of the country’s goal of being carbon-neutral by 2060.

Not surprisingly, a construction project of this scale does come with some controversy.

To start with, China’s history of displacing residents for national construction projects doesn’t look good. For the Three Gorges Dam project, over 1.25 million people were kicked out of their homes.

In addition, China does not place nearly as much importance on protecting the natural wildlife and surrounding environment when engaging in these large-scale projects.

This causes many in the international community to dislike the work.

Source: EPA/Roman Philipey

Finally, India is concerned that a dam on this river will cause them a variety of issues, and could even result in China holding water that normally flows into India hostage.

India is already planning on building a 10-gigawatt dam on a different tributary in an attempt to generate energy and protect their water interests.

There is not currently a timeline for when the dam will be completed, but the international community is watching closely due to the significant impact it will have not only in China but throughout the surrounding region.

Hydroelectric dams seem like almost limitless power, but not without costs.