Three Gorges Dam

The Three Gorges Dam is a hydroelectric river dam that spans the Yangtze River in the town of Sandouping,in Yichang, Hubei province. It is the world's largest electricity-generating plant of any kind. The dam body was completed in 2006. Currently, it contains 32 main generators, each with a capacity of 700 MW. Six additional generators in the underground power plant are being installed and are not expected to become fully operational until around 2011. With 2 small generators (50 MW each) to power the plant itself, the total electric generating capacity of the dam will eventually reach 22,500 MW. The project produces hydroelectricity, increases the river's navigation capacity, and reduces the potential for floods downstream by providing flood storage space. From completion until September 2009 the dam has generated 348.4 TWh of electricity, covering more than one third of its project cost.

The project management and the Chinese state regard the project as a historic engineering, social and economic success, a breakthrough in the design of large turbines, and a move toward the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The total estimated cost of the project ranges from $20 billion to $25 billion, and both international and Chinese tourists have turned out in droves to view the structure.

The reservoir will open the country's remote interior to new trade routes, allowing large freighters to sail an additional 1,500 miles inland to the developing commercial hub of Chongqing. The dam is also expected to control flooding along the Yangtze. It can produce the energy of 15 nuclear power plants -- enough to fulfill one-ninth of the country's electricity needs, lessening China 's dependency on coal and other fossil fuels.