During the past five years, Guangdong has built some large and medium-sized thermal power plants to solve its power supply problem. But because most of the coal and fuel needed by the thermal power plants must be transported from outside the province, the region's transportation capacity has been strained. The Guangdong Environment Protection Bureau (GEPB) believes the present power source structure, which mainly relies on coal-fueled thermal power in the province, has seriously damaged the ecological environment. The GEPB estimates that sulfur dioxide and acid rain cause economic losses of nearly 40 billion yuan ($5.86 billion) annually, of which human health losses are nearly 700 million yuan ($102.49 million) and agriculture and forestry losses are 2 billion yuan ($292.83 million). Because Guangdong's sustainable economic and social development has been seriously affected, the provincial people's congress has made clear several times that the vigorous development and introduction of clean energy should be the major direction of the province's future energy development.
Longtan Hydropower Station can provide enough high-quality and clean electricity for Guangdong's sustainable economic and social development. Besides supplying high-quality power, the project also can turn the Hongshuihe River into a "golden waterway," so that vessels weighing 500 tons can reach the South China Sea from Guizhou Province via the Pearl River. The Hongshuihe River will become a sea-lane connecting the three provinces (autonomous region) of Guizhou, Guangxi and Guangdong.
There are abundant reserves of coal and nonferrous metals in areas along the Hongshuihe River. But because there are 300 dangerous shoals, the river cannot be fully opened to navigation. Since land traffic is even more inconvenient, the abundant resources of coal and nonferrous metals cannot be transferred into economic advantages.
Now, navigation of this "golden waterway" has opened a passage for transporting coal and mineral resources in Guizhou and Guangxi. The massive development of resources in the Hongshuihe Valley will soon become reality, offering opportunities for local people to get affluent.
The Hongshuihe Valley used to be a region with frequent floods. Extraordinarily heavy floods hit the valley in 1988, 1994 and 1998, taking a heavy toll of lives and causing huge economic losses. Floods in the Hongshuihe River caused huge amounts of floodwaters to pour into the Pearl River and possibly wreak havoc on the Pearl River Valley. This is one reason why LHDC is speeding up the construction of the Longtan Hydropower Station.
The Longtan Hydropower Station's ability to prevent floods will reduce the economic losses in the Hongshuihe Valley, said Dai Bo, General Manager of LHDC, in a company news release issued on October 15.
The normal water storage level of the Longtan hydropower project is 400 cubic meters, its total storage capacity is 27.3 billion cubic meters, and its designed flood-control storage capacity is 7 billion cubic meters, Dai said. The project can impound floodwater at a rate of 8,500 cubic meters per second. Together with the Yantan Dam in the lower reaches of the Hongshuihe River, more than 10,000 cubic meters of floodwater can be impounded per second, so that the lower reaches can withstand even the heaviest flood once in 50 years.