China Turns to Hydropower

Table of Contents

Essential for Expansion
Full Speed Ahead
Safety gets Priority
Power from the Yalong river
About Atlas Copco


The year 2006 saw the opening of the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River and was a testimony to the successful efforts of China to harness the energy of its big rivers on a massive scale. All eyes are now fixed on the Nation’s mega-project in renewable hydropower, the Jinping Hydropower Station, set on the Yalong River bend in Sichuan Province. This place has kept a large number of hydroelectric engineering institutions busy for over 50 years, studying the potential of the river for generating power and how to tap it effectively.

Essential for Expansion

In November 2005, construction commenced on the Jinping project that has two power stations, Jinping I and Jinping II. With a total installed capacity of 3 600 and 4 800 MW respectively, the facilities will provide a main supply of electricity from Sichuan Province to the East China region. China is the largest producer of hydroelectricity globally and generates 17% of its domestic electricity from hydropower and it is a figure that will gradually increase.

On completion of Jinping I, its arch wall dam will be the world’s tallest standing at 305 m. This corresponds with the huge drop in elevation between the downstream and upstream points where the Yalong River turns back on its course and comes within just 16 km of itself. At the west side of the Yalong River Bend, a 37 m tall, 162 m long sluice dam will divert water through four 12 m diameter, 16.6 km long headrace tunnels to the Jinping II power station. Out of the four tunnels, two are being excavated with tunnel boring machines (TBM), and two by drill-and-blast. China’s No.18 Bureau of China Railway Tunnel Engineering Co is carrying out the work.

Full Speed Ahead

A fleet of Atlas Copco hydraulic drill rigs are at work on the project, which include 25 Boomer 353 E hydraulic face drilling rigs, one Boomer XL3 D and seven ROC D7 surface drill rigs. Two stages of tunneling are done beginning with the upper 7.5 meters which are excavated with the Boomer 353 E. After the removal of the entire topheading the lower level is excavated using the ROC D7 surface rigs. The tunnels are advanced at the rate of 9 to 12 m per day working two twelve hour shifts. Project Manager Quan Li stated that everything is working as it must and they have no complaints and appreciates the excellent performance of the equipment. Li has been an Atlas Copco customer since the year 1984 when he was working in the Hong Kong area. Atlas Copco helps him to work at full speed with high-quality tunneling equipment and he added that the Boomer 353 E is made for this type of work. The rigs are simple to operate and the best size for these tunnels.

On the Yalong River Bend: The Atlas Copco Boomer 353 E driving one of four headrace tunnels on the Jinping II hydropower station project. Says Project Manager Quan Li: “The Boomer is made for this type of work.”

Easy operation: Wen Tao Li keeps the three COP 1828 rock drills working simultaneously on the Boomer 353 E.

Safety gets Priority

Li discloses that it is not easy to find skilled people to join the workforce. Many come from the countryside where jobs are rare seeking for new opportunities. It may take up to six months before they can actually operate the drill rigs. Li admires Atlas Copco equipment especially for its safety features. Each drilling crew has four men and he feels happy that no one gets hurt and that they care about the welfare of their people.

This equipment ensures the benefit of distance from the rock face as well as extra length of the BUT 35 boom. The operator smoothly moves from control station to control station operating all three booms at the same time.

It is very convenient to keep all three COP 1838 rock drills equipped with their 45 mm Secoroc bits, working simultaneously. For securing the roofs, every 1.2 m along the tunnel five Boltec LD rigs are used to install rock bolts. Further security for walls and roofs is offered by shotcrete over the wire mesh. Every 1.2 m along the tunnel, five Boltec LD rigs are used to install rock bolts for securing the roofs. On completion of excavation, lining of the tunnels is done. With its spillway structures, sluice dam, power tunnels, four headrace tunnels and a powerhouse complex, the Jinping II station is more complex when compared to Jinping 1.

On completion, the tunnels will rank among the world’s largest. The total construction period is estimated at eight years with two tunnels due to come on stream in 2012 and the remaining two to start up in 2015.

Power from the Yalong river

Jinping I will be the world’s tallest traditional hydropower dam at 305 m and have a total capacity of 3 600 MW to produce between 16 and 18 TWh (billion kW/h) annually. The Jinping II hydropower station will spin eight 550 MW turbines in an underground complex on the outlet side of the Yalong River Bend. After using it for power generation, the water will then be released back into the river.

Quan Li, Project Manager, No.18 Bureau of China Railway Tunnel Engineering Co. Ltd,. stresses the importance of safety in drilling operations at the Jinping site.

The Jinping I and Jinping II Hydropower Station project is scheduled for completion in 2015. Designed to supply energy to China’s eastern region, it features a 305 m high arch wall dam which will be the tallest in the world.

About Atlas Copco

In close cooperation with customers and business partners, and with more than 130 years of experience, Atlas Copco innovates for sustainable productivity.

  • The products and services include compressors, expanders and air treatment systems, construction and mining equipment, power tools and assembly systems.
  • Atlas Copco's customers are located almost everywhere on the globe. To them, Atlas Copco is a local company; at the same time, the Atlas Copco Group is a global enterprise with worldwide resources.
  • Headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, the Group’s global reach spans more than 170 markets, with its own sales operations in more than 80 countries. In the other countries, the products are marketed through distributors and service networks.
  • The Group has production facilities in more than 20 countries. Manufacturing is mainly concentrated in Belgium, Sweden, Germany, the United States, India and China.

The objective of Atlas Copco’s corporate responsibility work is to be a good corporate citizen in each market. This is done by making a positive impact in economic, environmental and social aspects, and through employee pride in the Group’s values.

Atlas Copco’s vision is to become and remain First in Mind-First in Choice® for its stakeholders, which is also the driving force of the Group’s corporate responsibility strategy

With a tradition of innovation dating back to the Group’s founding in 1873, the core business remains much the same, with today's equipment delivering an unparalleled level of efficiency.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Atlas Copco.

For more information on this source, please visit Atlas Copco.


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