KUNMING, Dec. 24 (Xinhua) — China on Thursday started construction of its third largest hydropower station on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River.

The Wudongde project, located upstream from three other hydropower stations on the Jinsha River, the upper section of the Yangtze, is the world's 7th largest in operation or under construction, said Lu Chun, chairman of the China Three Gorges Corporation.

The project has a designed capacity of 10.2 gigawatts and will be able to generate 38.9 billion kwh of electricity per year after its 12 generating units start operation, Lu said.

The first unit is expected to start operating in 2020, he said.

The project, which was approved by the State Council on Dec. 16, is estimated to cost more than 100 billion yuan (15.4 billion U.S. dollars), Lu said.

The project's construction will require more than 16,000 workers in the next few years.