Started in 1994, the work which cost over 40 billion euros and the displacement of at least 1.5 million residents has an installed capacity of 22.5 gigawatts, or 11% of the hydropower capacity of the country.
“The operation of all generators of the Three Gorges Dam is the largest hydroelectric power project in the world and the largest base of clean energy,” said at a ceremony Zhang Cheng, Director General of China Yangtze Power, the company operating the project.
The Three Gorges hydropower plant will cost more than 4 times the original amount, or 254 billion yuan (32.23 billion euros) instead of 63.5 billion yuan (8.05 billion euros). Furthermore, additional 123.8 billion yuan (15.71 billion euros) have been devoted to monitoring the project.
The dam with a height of 185 meters and a length of 2,305 meters has a reservoir of 600 km.
This size has a price to pay. Indeed, the dam has displaced millions of people without any help from the state with the 1300 sinking of historical and archaeological sites, several towns and many villages.
Moreover, the rapid sedimentation of the reservoir would paralyze the operation of the dam. Every year 500 million tons of silt are deposited in the gorges of the river, especially in the retention pond. With the completion of the work, experts estimate that the sediment pressure should be exerted on the reservoir and affect its hydroelectric potential of 50%.
Despite all these drawbacks, the central government of China has planned to commission another 14 gigawatts of hydroelectric power by 2015.