The Three Gorges Dam is most certainly one of the biggest undertakings in human history. Constructed on the Yangtze River in China, it is the largest hydroelectric power plant in the world. Despite its intentions, it has risen a considerable amount of controversies and is considered a grave danger to nature.
It is the largest hydropower station in the world.
It generates 100 billion kWh of electricity a year. In 2020, the dam generated 11,8 TWh, setting a world record previously held by the Itaipu Dam in South America.
The Three Gorges Dam is made of steel and concrete.
Over 510,000 tons of steel were used in the construction of the dam. It is 2,335 meters long, with a maximum height of 185 meters.
Its construction lasted from 1994 to 2006.
It was officially opened in 2008 but achieved full functionality in 2012.
Sun Yat-sen, the first provisional president of the Republic of China, theorized about constructing a dam in Three Gorges to store the resources of the Yangtze River, and to improve the shipping route. His idea was then later re-evaluated by Mao Zedong, the founder of the People’s Republic of China, and the preparation for construction started in 1955.
The cost of the construction is estimated at $37 billion.
It required the relocation of over 1,3 million people.
The construction destroyed 13 cities, 140 towns, and over 1,300 villages. Further relocation is possible.
Its primary purpose was flood control.
The Yangtze River's occasional flooding caused both mild and major devastation in the basin area. The dam eased flood pressure by the controlled release of rainwater from its reservoir. However, it did not prevent flooding, as one of the biggest occurred in 2010, and caused the death of nearly 400 people, and over US$50 billion of damage.
The Three Gorges Dam can store 39 trillion cubic meters of water.
Although the construction increased control over flooding, the volume of water held by the dam increased the number of earthquakes.
The Western Sichuan region of China was already an earthquake-prone area, but since the dam was constructed, it actually increased the number of geological disasters.
The Three Gorges Dam causes a delay in the rotation of Earth.
The momentum is lost due to an enormous amount of water being forced through the dam. According to NASA estimates, the dam delays the rotation by 0,06 microseconds.
The construction led to the destabilization of a unique ecosystem in the region.
Many species of flora and fauna face extinction because of landslides triggered by the erosion of the reservoir. Moreover, the dam generated a microclimate, with increased growth of algae.
Approximately 1,400 archeological sites were destroyed by the reservoir water, and the overall appearance of the Three Gorges changed.
Many exhibits were either destroyed or partially damaged. There were many relics that were impossible to move, such as the Shen Nong Gorge Hanging Coffins–an ancient burial site in the Hubei Province. The ancient towns of Guizhou, Kuizhou and Wushan were completely flooded.