Known as the second-tier hydro power plant, the 4.8GW station involves a total investment of yuan 29.8 billion (US$3.7B) and is scheduled to be completed in 105 months.

The developer, the State Development and Investment Corporation, said the new plant is the largest of a series of such developments to be constructed on the Yalong, which recently saw the 3.3 GW Ertan hydro power station – located on the lower reaches of the river – completed, and construction of the 3.6GW first-tier at Jinping begin. It is expected to be completed in 2014.

The developments come as China expects its installed generating capacity to grow by around one third to 840GW by the end of the decade, official sources indicate.

The forecast increase, spread over three years, actually represents a slowdown from 2006’s 20% growth to 622GW.

Under the forecast hydro power is expected to supply 190GW, wind will rise to 5GW, biomass 5.5GW, nuclear 10GW and natural gas 36GW. Coal-fired plants will continue to dominate but could slip slightly to around 70% of the total, or 593GW, under plans to shut down small coal-fired stations over the next four years in a drive to raise efficiency and cut pollution.