THE FIRST OF six hydro-electric turbines at Tibet's biggest hydropower station at Zangmu came on stream in late November. When the five remaining units are all commissioned by the end of 2015 at a cost of US$1.5bn, this 510 MW hydro-electric plant on the middle reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo River will have the capacity to generate some 2.5bn kwh of electricity per year.
Before this power station came into operation, Tibet's total installed electricity generating capacity stood at 1,480 MW. So the commissioning of the Zangmu hydro plant is hugely significant for Tibet because it will increase the autonomous region's total generating capacity by over one-third.
Given the shortage of electricity there and the fact that per capita electricity consumption in Tibet of some 1,000 kWh annually is just under one-third of the national average, the importance of this development cannot be overstated.
Tibet accounts for close to 30% of China's total potential water power resources - with 448.2 bn cubic metres of water annually that can be harnessed with the potential to generate over 200 GW of electricity.