China’s Mainstream Mekong Dams

Contrary to much media reporting, satellite imagery can confirm the completion of 11 mega-dams on China’s portion of the Mekong.

Part of the Mekong Policy Project
Southeast Asia

China has long planned to build 19 of the world’s tallest dams on its upstream portion of the Mekong. 11 are now complete, the most recent being the 990MW Wunonglong Dam near Yunnan’s border with Tibet. Combined the completed dams could generate 21,310 MW of electricity – enough to provide to power a medium-sized country. They also could store more than 47 BILLION cubic meters of water – about the volume of the Chesapeake Bay – and hold that water back from downstream countries. As downstream communities continue to suffer through the impacts of these dams, they are rarely utilized by China’s power market due to an ongoing power glut in China and poor grid connections. Seven of the remaining planned dams are in Tibet and will store runoff of melting Himalayan glaciers into the next decades.

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