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China's second biggest hydro plant completed

BEIJING, July 3 (Reuters) - China's Xiluodu hydropower station, the country's second largest in terms of capacity, went into full operation this week after its 18th and final generating unit was completed, the project operator said in a notice on Wednesday.

The Xiluodu facility, built by the state-owned China Three Gorges Project Corporation (CTGPC) on the upstream segment of the Yangtze river in the southwestern Chinese provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan, has a total generating capacity of 13.86 gigawatts (GW), second only to the Three Gorges Project itself.

CTGPC said the project would produce an average of 57 billion kilowatt-hours per year and would supply eastern and southeastern regions of China through long-distance power lines.

The plant, which began construction in 2005, was partly designed to reduce the volumes of silt flowing down the Yangtze and threatening to disrupt operations at the flagship Three Gorges Dam. It began generating power in July last year.

China's third biggest plant, the Xiangjiaba, also built by CTGPC, is expected to be completed this month, while the fourth largest, the Nuozhadu, went into full operation last week.

Despite the huge financial, social and environmental costs arising from large-scale dams and reservoirs, China has vowed to step up construction as it bids to reduce the share of coal in its total energy mix and tackle a major source of pollution.

(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Joseph Radford)