One of the biggest hydro-electric projects worldwide may be built on the upper parts of the Tibetan Tsangpo-Brahmaputra river. Lobbyists in China are pushing for this dam to be constructed to have access to the renewable energy in the Himalayas, despite the concerns of Bangladesh and India downstream which use the river for power and water.
The deputy general secretary Zhang Boting of China’s Society for Hydropower Engineering indicated that the construction of a huge dam located on the bend of the Tsangpo-Brahmaputra river would help the world because it may prevent 200m tonnes of carbon from being produced per year. 200M tonnes is equivalent to 1/3 of the United Kingdom’s CO2 emissions. He further commented that for the sake of the world every water resource that can be developed should be developed.
Zhang stated that only research has been done on the project. However, a government agency’s website has documents indicating that China is considering the massive 38 gigawatt hydropower facility. The facility would be over half the size of the Three Gorges dam and possess almost half the capacity of the United Kingdom’s electrical grid.
Professor Tsering of the University of British Columbia said that the huge facility will be 1 of 28 dams already built or planned to be built. He published a map of the proposed dam locations and a State grid map of China’s future transmission lines at http://tibetanplateau.blogspot.com.
The grid map transmission lines appear to lead from a 38 gigawatt hydropower facility in the remote Motuo area along the Tsangpo-Brahmaputra river to the current Chinese power supply. Professor Tsering has cited newspapers reporting survey teams looking through the region, although the government has denied any plan exists.
China has publicly stated that it is planning to construct 5 dams upstream such as the 500MW hydropower in Zangmu, being built by the Huaneng power company. Professor Tsering believes the largest dam will be at Motuo at the river’s bend. The construction would require tunnels, reservoirs, piping and turbines to access the 2,000-metre drop in the river as it winds down towards India’s border.
At an important Chinese science forum, secretary Zhang indicated that the Tsangpo-Brahmaputra river dam may produce as much electrical power as the entire amount of gas and oil from the South China sea. He said that further delays would let India gain access to the river’s resources and may reignite territorial disputes.
China and India have made an agreement to exchange information on hydropower plans regarding the Tsangpo-Brahmaputra river to reduce possible conflicts. Still, the Indian press continues to publish concerns about China channelling the water away from India’s northern dry plains. Professor Tsering disagrees because the natural laws of physics would prevent it and the purpose of the dam would be limited to the production of hydropower.