The Biggest Dam in the World (13 pics)
The Three Gorges Dam is a hydroelectric river dam that spans the Yangtze River in Sandouping, Yichang, Hubei, China. It is the largest hydroelectric power station in the world.
With a long history of planning and more than a decade of construction, the dam body was finished in 2006. When the whole project is completed, it will contain 32 main generators, each with a capacity of 700 MW. Except for a planned ship lift, all of the originally planned components of the project were completed on October 30, 2008, when the 26th generator was brought into commercial operation. Six additional generators in the underground power plant are being installed, not expected to become fully operational until around 2011. The total electric generating capacity of the dam will then reach 22,500 MW.
The project produces hydroelectricity (which is cleaner than most conventional power sources), reduces the potential for deadly floods downstream by providing flood storage space, and enhances navigation by a means of ship locks and a ship elevator. As of April 2009, the dam has generated 300 TWh of electricity, covering 30% its project cost according to Xinhua. The project management and the Chinese state media regard the project as a historic engineering, social, and economic success, a breakthrough in the design of large turbines, and a move towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, the dam has also flooded archaeological and cultural sites and displaced some 1,240,000 people, and is causing dramatic ecological changes, including increasing the risk of landslides. The decision to build the dam has been deeply controversial in China and abroad.