Wuxi County is located in the northeast of Chongqing Municipality (a large, rapidly developing city in Central China with 31 million inhabitants) and has a population of 510,000 inhabitants, 90% are rural dwellers. Wuxi’s power capacity stands at 42 MW, including 30 MW of hydropower and 12 MW of coal-based thermal power. The county has significant hydropower potential, only 6% of which is exploited.
Due to its geographical position in a middle mountain region, the county is gearing up to develop low-power run-of river facilities. Chongqing’s energy has become one of the main barriers to its development. Its power system is characterized by strong growth in electricity demand, with consumption doubling every seven years, and the predominance of low-grade coal in its generation, which causes high levels of pollution.
The project involves conducting a series of reorganizations in the Dongxi River valley and developing a dam on the Xiaoxi River. It comprises five small run-of-river hydropower plants, combined with regulating dams, which will supply 60 MW and generate some 225 million kWh every year. The developments will comprise:
- The construction of two dams – 60 m and 80 m long – and four small regulating dams (with heights of between 5 and 15 m);
- The creation of six hydropower facilities across the rivers (unit capacity between 5 MW and 20 MW);
- The boring of 30 km of tunnels and laying of 40 km of penstocks for the water supply;
- The construction of ancillary facilities for the operation of the power plants and development of the valleys (road extensions, buildings, housing).
This project to promote renewable energies to replace coal-fired thermal power plants avoids the annual emission of some 200,000 teq CO2. On the economic front, the project will create over 4,000 jobs during the construction period and 250 permanent jobs for the operation of the power plants. This is a major benefit in a fragile county currently experiencing large-scale rural exodus.