Hydraulic power plants along Nu Jiang River
All along Nu Jiang River in Yunnan province, one can often spot cascading water columns plunging into the river from high up the mountain slopes. Those water columns come from small hydraulic power plants. While there isn’t a complete record, it is reported that there are around 100 such power plants along the river.
I went on a trip along Nu Jiang River in July 2015 with a group of people. After leaving Pe He, we went along a road that runs parallel with the river down south and selected a hydraulic power plant in Ceng Gan for a visit, without prearranged appointment.
The jeep climbed up a hill and the driver honked his horn right outside the gate, announcing my arrival. The person coming to open the gate for us was a woman, named Ms Li Xinmei, who was an engineer and deputy head of the plant. She was more apologetic for greeting us in her casual wear, knee-shorts and slippers, than being ruffled by the blunt announcement of our visit. The uncourteous behaviour of our driver and the sloppy way the deputy head greeted us are a typical reflection of the casual and unostentatious manners of the local people. They reminded me of the grassroots behaviour of people in Taiwan.
Ceng Gan is a second-tier hydraulic power plant on the Du Du Luo River, a tributary of Nu Jiang River, situated in Lu Shui county in Nu Jiang prefecture. There are three power generators with a power generation capacity of 6 megawatts. I would not like to comment on the technological issues of the power plant here. Instead, I would like to say a few words about Ms Li, the deputy head. She is from Da Li, a major town several hundred kilometers away, and her husband is of an ethnic nationality group in the area. He is the head of the power plant. She worked as our guide, explaining how the power plant functioned and describing the idyllic atmosphere in the plant.
The next evening we returned to Liu Ku, a small town on the Nu Jiang River. This section of the river has rich water resources, ideal for building a large hydraulic power plant for clean and inexpensive electricity, to make up for the severe power shortage in mainland China. But Ms Li told me that local residents adamantly opposed any man-made structures that would impact the natural environment.
Liu Ku is also known for a household story well documented in the Chinese classic War of the Three Kingdoms. A local ethnic general, Men Huo, regrouped the disbanded soldiers of another army whose general, Yong Kai, was assassinated by the subordinate of a fellow general, Gao Ding, during their rebellion against the expeditionary army led by Zhu Geliang, the prime minister of the Kingdom of Shu. It is said that Liu Ku is where Zhu Geliang captured and released Men Huo seven times in order to command willing obedience from him.
This article was originally published in Chinese in the United Daily News (17 November, 2015).
7 December, 2015