Black & Veatch Corporation

Long Tan Hydroelectric Dam


Courtesy of Black & Veatch Corporation

Black & Veatch is the design and construction consultant for the world's largest roller-compacted concrete dam, which will be the world's fourth largest hydropower station and protect 12 million people from flooding.

China must create urban infrastructure for the equivalent of the city of Houston, Texas, every month for the next 30 years to accommodate the relocation of 280 million rural residents. Nearly 700 cities in China with an urban population of more than 100,000 all need high levels of basic infrastructure investment, including electricity, housing, transportation, water and wastewater.

At the start of 2000, hydro generation capacity in China stood at 73,000 megawatts (MW). By 2005 the total was 95,300 MW, and this capacity is planned to increase to 125,000 MW by 2010 and 150,000 MW by 2015. One major component in this effort is the Long Tan hydroelectric project located in Guangxi province near the China-Vietnam border.

Long Tan will be the highest (216.5 meters, 710 ft.) roller-compacted concrete (RCC) dam in the world. The dam will protect 12 million people and 1.2 million acres of residential, commercial and agricultural property from flood damage and provide 18.7 billion kilowatt-hours of power annually.

In planning for more than 50 years, construction on the diversion tunnels and cofferdams began in 2001; and the river was diverted around the dam site in 2003. Black & Veatch became involved in 2004, acting as consultant to the owner during design and construction. Filling of the dam will commence in late 2006 and power generation will begin in July 2007. All electricity will go to the Pearl River Delta, the region between Guangzhou and Hong Kong. Guangzhou is currently China's seventh largest metropolitan area and is the center of much of China's manufacturing and foreign investment activity. The Pearl River Delta is China's second-most important consumer goods market and contains some of China's fastest-growing cities.

Working with the local Chinese technical staff (mechanical, electrical and structural), Black & Veatch is providing technical advisors for design and construction of the dam and associated power generation facilities, an analysis of construction quality, safety and planning, progress monitoring and suitability assessment of construction methodology that takes into consideration site conditions, contractual requirements and international practices.

In addition to being the world's largest RCC dam, the Long Tan underground power house (28.5m wide by 75.2m high by 388.5m long) is the largest ever constructed, housing seven turbine generators, each with a capacity of 700 megawatts. The dam also has the world's highest and fastest ship elevator with a two-stage maximum vertical lift of 179 meters. The project will include the world's largest installation of gas insulated transformers. Construction is continuous 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Working successfully on such a large scale presents many challenges for the Black & Veatch team led by Stuart Cowie, but the collective managerial skills and technical knowledge of all involved enabled the team to surmount the obstacles. Black & Veatch carried on its mission of Building a World of Difference by ensuring the people of the Pearl River Delta has a continued supply of electricity and protection from future flooding.

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