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French hydro firm commissions world’s most powerful hydroelectric units in China

Alstom commissions 800MW class hydroelectric tech at China hydro power plant Xiangjiaba

Alstom said the hydro units are the most powerful hydroelectric generating units in the world

A French hydro firm has commissioned the world's most powerful hydroelectric units at Xiangjiaba hydro power plant in China. All four hydro units, manufactured by French firm Alstom, for China's Xiangjiaba underground hydro power plant have now successfully entered commercial operation.

Alstom said the 800MW class units coupled with a 889 MVA generator are the most powerful hydroelectric generating units in the world. Alstom is the only manufacturer who has delivered such powerful units already in commercial operation. Each unit is able to supply the yearly electricity consumption of approximately 5 million inhabitants during a year.

The four units were designed and manufactured in Alstom's factory in Tianjin, China, and were commissioned in a record time for such large machines, at an average of one unit every two months. After a first phase of reliability trials, the units began successively commercial operation between November 2012 and June 2013.

Each unit for the Xiangjiaba plant includes an 800MW class Francis turbine coupled to an 889 MVA generator. The generators are the only air-cooled generators in the world with 23kV windings. This high voltage allows an optimised electrical design for such a high power output. At almost 10m in diameter, the turbine runners are amongst the largest in the world. Weighing in over 400 tonnes, they were designed with the latest technology for a very high level of hydraulic stability.

With a total capacity of 6 400MW, the Xiangjiaba power plant will run on eight units. When completed Xiangjiaba will be the third largest hydro power plant in China and an important power source in the country's West to East Electricity Transfer Programme to satisfy the growing electricity needs of the country's eastern provinces.

"The successful delivery and commercial operation of the four units for Xiangjiaba plant represent another important milestone to showcase Alstom's contribution to China's hydro power development," said Yves Rannou, General Manager of Alstom Hydro China. "With its operational excellence and state-of-the-art technology, Alstom is best positioned to work along with Chinese customers to actively respond to the new challenges for the country's hydro power industry. It also tangibly demonstrates Alstom's ability to be at the forefront of innovation in the hydro power industry, continuing to develop the best performing and largest machines in the world."

Located in southwest China Jinsha River, the Xiangjiaba power plant is owned by the China Three Gorges Corporation (CTG). The Xiangjiaba project is one of the series of successful co-operations between Alstom and CTG, which included deliveries of Three Gorges Left Bank (8 units of 700MW), Three Gorges Right Bank (6 units of 700MW) and Three Gorges Underground (2 units of 700MW).

Present in China for 18 years, Alstom has been actively engaging in the modernisation of its industrial footprint, the development of local resources as well as the promotion of renewable energy sources such as hydro power. Alstom will inaugurate a new industrial site with a hydro Global Technology Centre (GTC) in Tianjin this September which will be the largest hydro site of Alstom's worldwide.