China has successfully launched the Kela photovoltaic (PV) power station – the world's largest hybrid solar-hydropower plant. Constructed by Yalong River Hydropower Development, also known as Yalong Hydro, the Kela station aims to expand the renewable energy capacity of the Yalong River basin and contribute significantly to China's sustainable energy goals. Today, the plant commenced full-scale operations, marking a groundbreaking achievement in the country's commitment to achieving net-zero emissions.

Conceptualized by the Design and Research Institute of Power China Chengdu in 2016, the Kela solar-hydropower project boasts an impressive installed capacity of 1GW and is projected to generate 2GWh annually. By harnessing the power of the sun and the river, this initiative is estimated to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.6 million tonnes per year. Furthermore, the project's overall planned capacity is anticipated to reach an impressive 3GW, serving as a pivotal force in China's ambitious sustainability endeavors.

As the inaugural phase of the Lianghekou hydropower plant, the commencement of operations at the Kela station represents the beginning of the Yalong River basin's transformation into a prominent hub for clean energy in China. This development will play a pivotal role in supporting the nation's net-zero commitments and forging a greener, more sustainable future.

“China is leading the way in renewable energy. We congratulate Yalong Hydro for this deployment of the world’s largest hybrid solar-hydropower plant,” said Eddie Rich, the International Hydropower Association’s Chief Executive Officer. “Hybrid PVs have huge capacity to contribute to meeting global energy demands while making use of hydropower’s flexibility and storage capabilities. This is a major step in the right direction for meeting net zero targets.”

The significance of projects like the Kela station, as emphasized in the 2023 World Hydropower Outlook, lies in their ability to exemplify the critical role that sustainable hydropower plays in the energy transition. By combining the flexibility and storage capabilities of hydropower with the intermittent nature of solar energy, these hybrid projects ensure round-the-clock electricity supply, guaranteeing a reliable, safe, and low-carbon power system. Moreover, in addition to enhancing grid flexibility, the Kela station will support the development of various local industries such as agriculture, tourism, and transportation, aligning with the key themes outlined in the World Hydropower Outlook.

Although the deployment of hybrid solar-hydropower technology has been steadily increasing over the past five years, its development remains in its early stages. The Asia-Pacific region, led by China, stands at the forefront of this buoyant industry, spearheading innovation and pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the renewable energy sector.

He Shengming, Deputy General Manager of Yalong Hydro, expressed his delight at the inauguration of the Kela power station, emphasizing the positive impact it would have on Chengdu citizens. He remarked, "We are delighted to see the Kela power station begin producing electricity for Chengdu citizens who suffered from power shortages during last summer's heatwave. The Kela PV station connected into the Lianghekou hydropower plant as a virtual generator breaks ground for the clean energy base building in China."