2013 Update: Dams on the Drichu (Yangtze), Zachu (Mekong) and Gyalmo Ngulchu (Salween) rivers on the Tibetan Plateau

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


This is an updated map and list of hydropower projects (HPP) in the watersheds of the Drichu, Zachu and Gyalmo Ngulchu rivers. The map and the lists is complemented by three Excel sheets with more information, including references and coordinates of dams, on the (click on the names to access files) Drichu, Zachu and Gyalmo Ngulchu rivers.

The previous version was posted on this blog in 2010. 



China’s government is planning and preparing for the construction of a cascade of hydropower projects along each of the three rivers: the Salween, the Mekong and the Yangtze. Many of these projects are listed in China’s 12th Five Year Plan. In addition to mentioning the projects on the three rivers, the 12th Five Year Plan also gives priority to projects on the upper Machu (Yellow River, 6 projects) in Qinghai to the north, and the Nyagchu (5 projects, with others already under construction) and the Gyarong Ngulchu (Dadu River, 11 projects) in Sichuan to the east. As projects in Sichuan, Qinghai and Yunnan are completed, projects in TAR, moving generally from east to west, will be developed. As these projects get developed, necessary infrastructure will be in place to develop the Brahmaputra River's the Great Bend area. The electricity generated will be exported east to China using Ultrahigh Voltage transmission lines or used locally mainly for mining and mineral processing.

In the updated lists below, we have provided the closest identifiable Tibetan place names by studying the location and name of the projects. While majority of the Tibetan place names are accurate, many may be slightly off the mark. Two Tibetan language maps were used for identifying Tibetan place names. One of the maps is Amnye Machen Institute’s “Tibet and Adjacent Areas under Communist China’s Occupation” and the other map is published by Tibet Automomous Region (TAR) Bureau of Cartography. Readers’ assistance in improving and updating these location names and other information will be highly appreciated



Categories of Projects

The hydropower projects are grouped into five categories.

Operational/Built; black colour. A hydropower project is categorized as Operational if there has been an announcement that at least one generator is functional. This does not mean the project is completed. This may take several more years. When a project is completed it is then categorized as Built

Under Construction; red colour. Examples are: river being blocked, cement being poured, etc., that is, work on the ground. Photos are very useful evidence in this case.

Preparation for Construction; red-ochre colour. Reports of preliminary feasibility studies, Environment Impact Assessments, road construction, immigration, etc. will put a project in this category.

Under Active Consideration; ochre colour. In this category a project has been announced but no evidence has been found that it will be constructed in the immediate future. 

Preliminary Analysis; yellow colour. In this category site identification, preliminary discussions, etc. are under way. If a project is in this category it has been proposed, but there is no evidence that it will go ahead, and may not go ahead at all.

Note that the colours of the latter four categories grade one into the other, from red to yellow. This is intended to indicate the fuzziness of the categories, which parallels the fuzziness of the available information.

Hydropower projects on the Drichu, Yangtze river on the Tibetan Plateau
The Drichu flows from Qinghai, along the Sichuan-Qinghai border, the Sichuan-TAR border, and the Sichuan-Yunnan border, into Yunnan. Each of these sections has its own political arrangements. Consequently Karze Prefecture announced three groups of three, eight and two hydropower stations on the Drichu.

Along the Qinghai-Sichuan border there are: Xirong (西, རྩེ་མདའ་ 320 MW), Shaila (晒拉, དམར་འབྲིང་ 380 MW), and Guotong (果通, བེ་མདའ་ 140 MW). The Sichuan-TAR border: Gangtuo (岗托, སྐམ་ཐོག་ 1100 MW), Yanbi (岩比, སྤྱི་སྒང་ 300 MW), Boluo (, དཔལ་ཡུལ་ 960 MW), Yebatan (叶巴 གླང་སྨད་ 1980 MW), Lawa (拉哇, ལྷག་བ་ 1900 MW), Batang (巴塘, འབའ་ཐང་ 740 MW), Suwalong (苏洼龙, སྭོ་བ་ནང་ 1160 MW), Changbo (昌波, འཕྲང་པོ་ 1060 MW). Along the Sichuan-Yunnan border: Xulong (, སྡེ་རང་ 2220 MW) and Benzilan (奔子, བཀྲིས་རང་མཁར་ 1880-2100 MW) . Yebatan, Lawa, and Suwalong are currently receiving the most attention.


In Qinghai the  Drichu (this stretch of the Yangtse is in Chinese called the Tongtianhe, 通天河) is under study to identify possible hydropower projects, which include Mariji (马日给, ནན་གྱིས་ 10.4 MW), Yage (牙哥, འབྲིང་དཀར་ 63.6 MW), Lumari (马日, འུར་རི་སྤུ་བྲག་བརྒྱ་ 72 MW), Reqin (, རི་བཟང་ 200 MW), Lixin (立新, མགྲོན་མདའ་ 130) , Dequkou (德曲口, ཤ་རུ་དགོན་ 276.7 MW)), Leyi (, གྲོང་མོ་ཆེ་ 112.8 MW), Genzhou (跟着, སྐལ་བཟང་དགོན་ 612.5), and Cefang (侧仿, མགྲོན་མདའ་ 158 MW) . Reqin and Leyi have been mentioned recently so are under active consideration. Lixin is under preparation for construction.

In Yunnan Province, there are shown the following hydropower projects: Longpan (龙盘, ལོང་པན་ 4200 MW), Liangjiaren (两家人, ལྗང་ཡུལ་ 4000 MW), Liyuan (梨园, 2000 MW), Ahai (阿海, 2100 MW), Jinganqiao (金安, 465 MW), Longkaikou (龙开口, 1800 MW), and Ludila (鲁地拉, 2180 MW). Jinganqiao is operational. The others are under construction or, at minimum, under active consideration.
The 12th 5 Year Plan gives priority to the construction of Yebatan, Lawa, Suwalong, Changbo, Xulong, Liyuan, Longkaikou, and Ludila. It also indicates that Longpan is to be started. Longpan is the replacement project for Tiger Leaping Gorge project which was cancelled after local and international protest.

Table 3: Hydropower projects on the Drichu, the Yangtze River on the Tibetan Plateau



Hydropower projects on the Zachu, Mekong River on the Tibetan Plateau:
There are 24 HPPs in various stages of development on the upper reaches of the Mekong River on the Tibetan Plateau: five in Qinghai Province, 14 in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and five in Yunnan province.

North of the city of Chamdo, there are five projects: Dongzhong (冬中ཀར་མ་ 108 MW), Guoduo (果多ཚེར་དབད་ 165 MW), Xiangda (向达རྡོ་མདའ་ 66 MW), Ruyi (如意རུ་བཞི་ 114 MW), and Lichang (གཡོ་རུ་ཐང་ 72).  Guoduo is under construction by Huaneng Tibet Branch. The river was blocked on December 30, 2012. The Yuelong (YULONG?) Mine is involved in the development of Guoduo, which will be providing power to it. The other four have not gone beyond the planning stage.
In TAR, south of Chamdo on the Zachu mainstream there are eight projects being developed by Huaneng Lancang River Hydropower Co., Ltd. They are: Cege (侧格སེང་གེ་ 160 MW), Yuelong (约龙སྐྱོ་ནུབ་ 100 MW), Kagong (མཁར་སྒང་ 240 MW), Banda (班达ས་ནོར་ 1000 MW), Rumei (如美རོང་མེ་ 2400 MW), Bangduo (邦多མུ་མདོ་སྟེང་), Guxue (古学ཚེར་མདོ་ 2400 MW), and Baita (白塔ཚྭ་ཁ་ལ་). Rumei and Guxue are older projects and are the most important in this area.

Jinhe (སྐྱིད་ཐང་) is an operational HPP located in a nearby tributary, Zichu.

Jiaoba dam was mentioned in various articles as located on a tributary named Dengqu of the Zachu. We found a location corresponding with the description (see the Zachu Excel sheet) but we are not totally convinced, which is why we have left it off the map but mentioned it in the Excel file. 

In Qinghai, several small projects are under development: Angsai (རྣམ་སྲས་ 55 MW) , Charikou (查日扣ར་སྨེད་ 54 MW), and Dangqia (当卡ལྕོགས་ཡུལ་མདའ་ 12 MW).  The latter two are under construction. Chalongtong (查隆通ཚྭ་ལུང་ཐང་ 10.5 MW) and Longqingxia (གཞུང་སེ་མ་ 2.52 MW) are operational.

There are five Yunnan Zachu projects shown on the map: Gushui (古水, 1800 – 2600 mw),Wunonglong (乌弄龙, 990 MW), Lidi (里底, 420 MW), Touba (托巴, 1250 MW), and Huangdeng (黄登, 1900 MW). A fifth is not shown: Gounian (果念, 1200 MW) north of Wunonglong, which is presently cancelled.

The 12th Five Year Plan gives priority to the construction of Rumei, Guxue, Gushui, Wunonglong, Lidi, Tuoba, and Huangdeng, and indicates that Cege and Kagong projects are to be started.

Table 2: Hydropower projects on the Zachu, the Mekong River on the Tibetan Plateau


Hydropower projects on the Gyalmo Ngulchu, Salween River on the Tibetan Plateau:
The Tibetan Plateau blog has identified 28 HPP under various stages of development on the headwaters of the Salween River. Out of these 28 HPP, 22 HPP are located in the Tibet Autonomous Region (15 on the mainstream and seven on the tributary, Hodchu འོད་ཆུ་) and six HPP are located in the Yunnan Province. 26 of these HPP are current projects. Only two HPP (Chalong/སྟག་རིང་ and Jiquan/འབྲི་རུ་) are built and operational.

There are 13 current hydropower development projects, including Songta, on the mainstream of Gyalmo Ngulchu in TAR. Others in Yunnan, which were “cancelled” have come back to life. Datang International Power Generation Co., Ltd. is the lead company developing the Gyalmo Ngulchu in TAR. The 13 hydropower projects on the mainstream in TAR are, from upstream to downstream, Shading (沙丁, ས་སྟེང་ 210 MW), Reyu (热玉ར་ཡུལ་ 1050 MW), Luohe (洛河རྔུལ་ཤོད་ 600 MW), Xinrong (新荣ཤིང་རོང་ 420 MW), Tongka (同卡ཐང་དཀར་ n/a), Kaxi (卡西སྐྱ་རི་ 950 MW), Nujiangqiao (怒江གླིང་ཁ་ 800 MW), Yeba (叶巴སྟོབས་འབངས་ n/a), Lalong (ཀྲུང་གླི་ཁ་ n/a), Luola (罗拉ཞྭ་གླིང་ཁ་ 1050 MW), Angqu (昂曲སྐུ་མིག་ 1500 MW), Emi (俄米ཚ་བ་ལུང་ n/a) , and Songta (松塔བྲག་ངོས་ 4200 MW) .

On the Gyalmo Ngulchu’s tributary the Hodchu (འོད་ཆུ་) there are seven projects: Chengde (成德འཕྲེངདེ་), Zhayu (扎玉བྲག་ཡོལ་), Jideng (吉登གྱང་དམར་), Zhongbo (中波པ་དགེ་ 185 MW), Bitu (碧土བུལ་ཐོག་ 367 MW), Zhala (扎拉རྒྱ་ལམ་ 930 MW), and Hongdong (轰东ལྦ་ཕུག་ 249 MW). The first three upstream projects are not shown on the map due to lack of space. They will be built after the latter four.

The map also shows six Yunnan projects: Bingzhongluo (丙中洛ཡུམ་ལ་ཀོའོ་ 1600 MW), Maji (马吉མ་ཅིག་ 4200 MW), Lumadeng (鹿马登ལོ་མ་ཏིང་ 2000 MW), Fugong (, 400 MW), Bijiang (碧江, 1500 MW), and Yabiluo (亚碧罗, 1800 MW) . Maji and Yabiluo were cancelled, but are currently preparing for construction.

Table 1: Hydropower projects on Gyalmo Ngulchu, the Salween River on the Tibetan Plateau


6 comments:

Anonymous said...

great work, keep it up.
cheers, TNT

Anonymous said...

Excellent work making this information available to interested people

Dak Bumjal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
t jeddak said...

Excellent Job!!

Do you have the hydro plant information of other area of Tibet, including Amdo, rNgari, and other area of Kham? What is the main information source of your map?

Tashi said...

Thank you TNT, Anonymous, Dak Dumjal and t jeddak.

We will be posting more updates soon. Sources of information for all the projects are given the 'References' section in the Excel spreadsheets.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for posting this information. Very useful and important to know. Keep up the good work with this blog.