YICHANG (Hubei), Jan. 11 -- The first underground turbine of the world's largest hydropower project is expected to be put into operation in 2011, according to the China Three Gorges Corporation (CTGC).
A 700,000 kw underground turbine is expected to start operation in July 2011, while the rest five will be put to use by 2012, CTGC said in a working conference Saturday.
According to the plan, construction of the underground power station will be completed in 2010, which will be followed by the installation of the six turbines, including four solely developed by China.
The company said it hoped three turbines could enter operation by the flooding season in 2011.
Upon the full operation of the underground power station with a total capacity of 4.2 million kw, the Three Gorges project, which also has 26 hydropower turbo-generators, will have a installed capacity of 22.5 million kw, generating the maximum amount of electricity at 100 billion kwh a year.
Launched in 1993, the hydroelectric project is built near Yichang in central China's Hubei Province to tame the unruly Yangtze River and fuel China's economic development with clean and cheap energy.
The project mainly includes a 185-meter-high dam, a five-tier ship lock and 32 generators, 26 of which are on the river banks and all had gone into operation by October last year, with installed capacity totaling 18.2 million kw.
As of Dec. 31, the world's largest hydroelectric project had generated about 367 billion kwh of electricity since its first generator was put into operation in July 2003.