Three Gorges Dam, the largest hydroelectric power project in the world in terms of installed capacity, goes fully on stream this month. The gravity dam, built across the Yangtze river in Yiling district of Hubei province in China, is also claimed to be the largest concrete structure ever built in the history of mankind. Incidentally, Yangtze river is the longest river in Asia and the third longest in the world.
The cost of the project that is owned by a subsidiary of China Three Gorges Corporation is said be around $25 billion.
Although the concept of this giga-project was an old one and had been lingering for several decades, the actual construction work commenced only in late 1994. Since then, this monster hydropower project was being commissioned phasewise. With all of the scheduled 32 no. of 700MW capacity francis turbine generators, each weighing six kilotons, and 2 smaller ones of 50MW capacity each going fully operational this month, the project has finally achieved the planned installed capacity of 22.5 GW ( 32 x 700MW 2 x 50MW), rendering it the highest-installed-capacity hydel power project in planet earth leaving the 12.6 GW Itaipu hydroelectric project in Brazil way behind.
Needless to say that the vital statistics of the project have to be impressive and they indeed are. The gigantic gravity dam is around 2.3 km long, 185m tall, 40m wide at the crest and 115m at the base. The reservoir length is a-never-ending 600 km which is a tenth of the length of the river itself and the catchment area is a whopping one million sq. km. expanse. A peak flow of over 71000 cusec has been achieved into the dam’s reservoir.