A "Hydro Rose" Blooming along the Belt and Road
As summer approaches, Pakistan is baked in the sweltering sunshine pouring onto every inch of its land, with the highest temperature climbing to the burning 40 degrees Celsius at noon. Lahore, the second largest city of Pakistan, has already been wrapped in sultry and torrid heat.
Tracing back to 10 years ago, the city of Lahore had to cut electricity once an hour to limit the usage of power. Every household equipped their front doors with diesel generators in case of abrupt black out. In medium-and-small cities and villages, power outage could sustain as long as 14 to 18 hours every day, prompting the country to shore up the power capacity immediately.
However, the extreme shortage of power has been enormously alleviated as more and more energy and power projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) were put into production, transmitting electricity to thousands of Pakistani households with full-load operation of the sprouting hydro-power stations. People from all walks of life highly appraise the “revolutionary changes” of the local economy brought by the CPEC projects.
CPEC is a flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative launched by China, in which Sinohydro Group plays an important role and shoulders corresponding responsibilities. Across the vast land of South Asia, West Asia, and ASEAN, and at the front-line of the overseas hydro-power construction, the engineers of Sinohydro Group have injected new impetus to those areas by constructing infrastructure projects with proficient skills and the spirit of overcoming all difficulties and hardships.
“Out of China, I have no name; I'm just a Chinese engineer, standing for the image of China. We are responsible for sharing the development opportunities of China with the rest of the world,” said Yang Haiyan, Deputy Chief Engineer and Chief Design Engineer of Beifang Investigation, Design & Research Co, Ltd. (BIDR) of Sinohydro Group. Lauded as a "Hydro Rose", Yang will be more resilient and make her beauty bloom along the Belt and Road that embraces extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits.
China’s hydropower achievements shared by all
In the past sixteen years, Yang has been shuttling among projects in dozens of countries, including Pakistani Gomal Zam Dam Project, Duber Khwar Hydropower Project, Kohala Hydropower Project, etc.
In September 2013, the Gomal Zam Dam Project—the dream project of Pakistani people—was completed. A month later, the Duber Khwar Hydropower Project started generating electricity. This is the first international hydroelectric project along the Belt and Road that Yang has worked for.
As early as 2003, Yang Haiyan, as BIDR’s chief engineer, led the design team on a journey to Pakistan, as she, a graduate of Tsinghua University, had a sound professional background in hydropower engineering and great English communication skills.
International hydropower projects usually feature long construction cycles, high standard of design and great difficulty in execution. What’s more, they are mostly located in South Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa and other areas with poor natural and living conditions. Pakistan is the very case. It is hot and rainless all year round. Terrorist attacks occur frequently. Its economic development is slow, and the conditions of construction site are unusually poor. However, in Yang's eyes, these experiences have remained valuable during her growth.
“Others withdraw, but we won’t do that. The green power expansion in Pakistan needs us to come true,” said Yang.
After spending 20 months on a great deal of analysis and calculation, she and her team provided customized measures and resolved the design problems of Gomal Zam project.
“The Gomal Zam project has made the best use of the geographical and geological conditions and did get an optimal design,” said a well-known expert on hydropower design after the completion of the dam’s hub. Yang became excited with tears in eyes on getting such praise.
What makes Yang prouder is that her team has provided China’s plans on hydropower development for many projects, which could withstand the test of time.
For preparing for these China’s plans, Yang had spent little time with her family for years. She once worked overseas for over 300 consecutive days, and even didn't get together with them during the Spring Festival, the most important festival for the Chinese. She had missed many important periods of her daughter’s growth.
Yang felt guilty for her family and said, “When we just went abroad at the beginning, we had a hard life. We missed our motherland and our family … However, each of us remain true to our original aspiration for the hydropower cause.”
The original aspiration roots deeply in the minds of Chinese hydropower engineers. They have been boosting the technological advancement of international water dams and hydraulic structures with advanced design concepts. They have been lightening the world with hydropower and bringing Chinese warmth to people around the world, and making great contributions to the community of a shared future featuring the sharing of the joys and sorrows with each other and the tying of destinies.
Striving to promote the “Soft Connectivity” of hydropower station design standard
After many years’ hardworking, Yang Haiyan has become one of the “golden brands” of Chinese hydro-engineers under the CPEC. “Ms. Yang” from China is well-known in Pakistan’s Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA). Ms. Yang’s opinions and suggestions are certain to carry weight with the consulting engineers of Germany’s Lahmeyer International, a consulting company hired by WAPDA, when they meet technological problems in the project’s execution. However, Ms. Yang met many difficulties in communicating with the Germany consulting engineers on hydropower stations' design standards and concepts more than a decade ago.
Back to 2003, the awarded design contracts of the Gomal Zam Dam project and Duber Khwar Hydropower Station explicitly stipulated that the European and American technological standards should be adopted. However, Yang’s team, at that time, knew nothing about any technological standards other than that of the United States Army Corps of Engineers. To realize the docking of technological standards, Yang kept learning the European and American technological standards from 2003 to 2005 by collecting international general technological specification and reading a great deal of English materials.
At the same time, Chinese engineers appeared much more unaccustomed to the European and American design concepts as their method for carrying out the design work was different from that of the European and American engineers.
As a result, their design plan and drawings had been rejected again and again. However, Yang’s team was not discouraged and they tried again. After continuously revising the design plan and repeatedly communicating with related sides, they finally got the German engineers’ approval of starting the construction of the Duber Khwar Hydropower Station.
The collision of design standards and concepts made Yang realize that the mere "going out" of the Chinese equipment and capital is not enough, and Chinese standards, Chinese technologies and Chinese services must get the recognition overseas. Standards are just the common language of international cooperation and interconnectivity. Yang decided to make China’s design and standard system of hydropower play a part in the international hydropower market.
“The world needs the synergetic development of standards and the standards can drive the interconnection among all countries in the world,” Yang said, and not only saying so, she did so. Yang spent two years in building a system, both in Chinese and English, for the normalization and standardization of quality files of international hydropower projects.
Yang has learnt from the KKS code system for international mechanical and electrical engineering, absorbed and applied it to the hydropower engineering, forming a file encoding system that applies to the whole project lifecycle. By the file encoding system, the information generated at the phases of planning and design, construction, commissioning test, and operation and maintenance can be understood correctly by related parties of the project to facilitate their communication; meanwhile, it is easy to be processed by the computer.
“We have better accumulated design experiences for overseas projects by carefully learning international rules and rebuilding internal work flow. We have not only improved work efficiency but also made the effective docking of standards,” said Zhang Zhonghui, a member of Yang’s team, who had the most profound understanding of the work’s significance.
Hard work pays off. Around 2011, China’s hydropower engineering design technology could compete with that of the European and American countries for several projects, including Kohala hydropower station and Taunsa hydropower station in Pakistan, Nadarivatu hydropower station in Fiji and a hydropower station in Cameroon. In the end, China’s hydropower engineering design technology got the recognition of the European and American consulting engineers. China’s hydropower technology standard started engaged in international hydropower projects.
Undertaking more and more international hydropower projects, Yang has been committed to promoting China’s standards for CPEC’s major hydropower projects, pushing forward the mutual recognition between the Chinese standards and the European and American standards and the docking of them, and striving for the Chinese standards' English translation and publicity.
Yang said, “Today, China has entered the stage of making deep interaction with the world; China cannot develop without the world and the world cannot prosper without China.” Yang, via learning from others and self-innovation, strives for the “soft connectivity” of hydropower projects among nations, which is aimed at not only the hydropower development in China and the world, but also optimized global water management and the benefit of all humankind.
Delicately making Hydropower elaborate-style painting on the Belt and Road blueprint
"More and more Chinese hydropower brands will be inscribed in the history of human civilization."
CPEC stretches over 3,000 kilometers from Kashgar in China to Gwadar port in Pakistan and covers hundreds of millions of people. Energy and electricity are the lifeblood of the CPEC.
Since 2018, Yang Haiyan has participated in major international cooperation planning and thematic studies, including the energy planning of CPEC.
Over the years, Pakistan's power structure has been dominated by oil- and gas-fueled electricity, while hydropower and other green energy sources have not yet to take shape. As a hydropower engineer on BRI, Yang Haiyan's goal is not just to turn abundant water energy into one kWh of electricity for Pakistani households or a glowing lamp on the side of Indian River.
In her opinion, in order to promote the application of the high-quality development for the joint construction of the Belt and Road to hydropower projects, it is necessary to strengthen communication with governments and people of the host countries, so as to make the project play its role in a broader field at a higher level and for a longer time, and at the same time provide better service for the sustainable development of social environment and ecological environment.
Yang Haiyan determined to contribute her share to the elaborate-style painting of the Belt and Road blueprint. "In addition to helping Pakistan take less detours in energy development and choose a green development path, we should also focus on energy coverage and irrigation in Pakistan's remote areas, and on smart engineering management," she said. At present, in order to deepen China-Pakistan hydropower cooperation, China will be actively committed to the establishment of hydropower technology training centers, and try to build smart dams in the Dassu hydropower station and Mohammed hydropower station (both under construction), so as to promote the construction of the project to go deep and solid.
Unfolding the map of the world, we can see that Pakistan's territory is like a corridor, a land corridor connecting China with the Arabian Sea. From another view, this is not only an economic corridor connecting China and Pakistan, but also a bridge connecting China and the world.
China's friends and partners on the BRI is growing in number, and the quality of cooperation is getting better and better. As an expert, Yang Haiyan also participated in the planning for international power cooperation with the South and Southeast Asian countries. From considering only the planning and design of overseas hydropower projects to pondering on the impact on local ecological environment, from solving the problem of power generation to tackling the problems of irrigation, water supply and flood control, the design team led by Yang Haiyan is “drawing calmly and elaborately”, constantly enriching the content of the community with a shared future for mankind.
Today, Yang Haiyan, who has won many honors, often says that it is the good environment of BIDR that provides her with a broad platform, and it is the great motherland and the era that give her the opportunity to live a wonderful life.
Yang Haiyan firmly believes that BIDR people will share their green development experience with the international community with a more open and confident attitude, and work together to build a global ecological civilization. BIDR will be more closely linked to the development and prosperity of the countries along the Belt and Road. More and more brands of China hydropower will be engraved in the history of human civilization. China's contribution to international water security and its leading role in global water governance will make new leaps.