The Three Gorges Dam (simplified Chinese: 长江三峡大坝; traditional Chinese: 長江三峽大壩; pinyin: Chángjiāng Sānxiá Dà Bà) is a Chinese hydroelectric river dam that spans the Yangtze River in Sandouping, Yichang, Hubei, China. The total electric generating capacity of the dam will reach 22,500 megawatts, at which point it will be the largest hydro-electric power station in the world by capacity. This is the biggest project that has been undertaken in China since the Great Wall and the Grand Canal. Several generators are yet to be installed; the dam is not expected to become fully operational until about 2011.
As with many dams, there is a debate over costs and benefits. Although there are potential economic benefits such as flood control and hydroelectric power, there are also concerns about the relocation of over 1,500,0 people who have or will be displaced by the rising waters; siltation that could limit the dam's useful life; loss of numerous valuable archaeological and cultural sites; and significant adverse effects upon animal life.
Scale of the project
The dam wall is made of concrete and is about 2,309 metres (7,575 ft) long, and 185 metres (607 ft) high. The wall is 115 metres (377.3 ft) wide on the bottom and 40 metres (131.2 ft) wide on top. The project used 27,200,0 cubic metres (35,600,0 cu yd) of concrete, 463,0 metric tons of steel, enough to build 63 Eiffel Towers, and moved about 10,260,0 cubic metres (13,400,0 cu yd) of earth.
The reservoir created by the Three Gorges Dam exceeds 660 kilometres (410 mi) in length and 1.12 kilometres (0.70 mi) in width on average, and contains 39,300,0,0 cubic metres (9.43 cu mi) of water, when the water level is at 175 metres (574 ft). The dam will reach its maximum capacity by the end of 2008.
Three Gorges Dam TurbineWhen finished, the project will have cost no more than 180 billion yuan, over 20 billion yuan less than the initial estimated budget of 203.9 billion yuan, just under 30 billion USD. This calculation accounts for the effect of inflation, and the lower costs are attributed to a low inflation rate in recent years. It is estimated that the cost of construction will be recovered when the dam generates 10 TWh of the electricity, which will be sold at the price of 250 billion yuan. This will take 10 more years after the dam starts full operation.
Sources for funding include the Three Gorges Dam Construction Fund, revenue from Gezhouba Dam, policy loans from the China Development Bank, loans from domestic and foreign commercial banks, corporate bonds, and revenue from Three Gorges Dam before and after it is fully operational, with additional charges for electricity contributing to the Three Gorges Construction Fund. The additional charges are as follows: Every province receiving power from the Three Gorges Dam has to pay an additional charge of ¥7.00 per MWh. Provinces that will not receive power from the Three Gorges Dam have to pay an additional charge of ¥4.00 per MWh. Tibet does not have to pay any additional money.