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The Three Gorges


Hydroelectric Power
A dam is built to trap water, usually in a
valley where there is an existing lake.
Water is allowed to flow through tunnels
in the dam, to turn turbines and thus
drive generators.
Notice that the dam is much thicker at
the bottom than at the top, because the
pressure of the water increases with
Hydro-electric power stations can produce
a great deal of power very cheaply.

Hydroelectric Power:
Pros Vs Cons


Once the dam is built, the energy is

virtually free.

The dams are very expensive to build.

However, many dams are also used
for flood control or irrigation, so
building costs can be shared.

No waste or pollution produced.

Building a large dam will flood a very

large area upstream, causing
problems for animals that used to live

Much more reliable than wind, solar or

wave power.

Finding a suitable site can be difficult the impact on residents and the
environment may be unacceptable.

Water can be stored above the dam

ready to cope with peaks in demand.

Water quality and quantity

downstream can be affected, which
can have an impact on plant life.

Hydro-electric power stations can

increase to full power very quickly,
unlike other power stations.
Electricity can be generated

What Is It?
The Three Gorges Dam is a hydroelectric dam that
spans the Yangtze River by the town of Sandouping,
located in the Yiling District of Yichang, in Hubei
province, China.
It is the world's largest electricity-generating plant of
any kind, and second in production.
The dam body was completed in 2006 and the
originally planned components of the project were
completed on October30, 2008, when the 26th
generator in the shore plant began commercial
operation. Each generator has a capacity of 700MW.
Six additional generators in the underground power
plant are not expected to become fully operational
until 2011.

What Is It?
Coupling the dam's 32main generators with
2smaller generators (50MW each) to power
the plant itself, the total electric generating
capacity of the dam will eventually reach
The project produces electricity, increases the
river's shipping capacity, and reduces the
potential for floods downstream by providing
flood storage space.
From completion through September 2009 the
dam has generated 348.4TWh of electricity,
covering more than one third of its cost.

The Chinese state regards the project as a
historic engineering, social and economic
success, with the design of state-of-the-art
large turbines, and a move toward limiting
greenhouse gas emissions.
However, the dam flooded archaeological
and cultural sites and displaced some
1.3million people, and is causing significant
ecological changes, including an increased
risk of landslides.
The dam has been a controversial topic
both in China and abroad.

2 km long and 100m high.
The lake is over 600 km long.
Over 1m people have been moved
(resettled) to make way for the dam and
The Yangtze river provides 66% of
Chinas rice and contains 4m people.
The Yangtze drains 1.8m km2 and
discharges 700 km3 of water annually.

Flood Control.
Chinese officials note that the dam will relieve the
danger of flooding.
Emissions reduction.
Another advantage of the dam is to reduce
emissions of sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide.
China is enforcing tight rules aimed at preventing
construction work from causing environmental
pollution, while advanced facilities are being
installed to treat construction waste.
By the year 2000, over 90 percent of waste water
from construction is expected to be treated.


Chinese officials estimate that the reservoir will partially or
completely inundate 2 cities, 11 counties, 140 towns, 326
townships, and 1351 villages.
About 23800 hectares, more than 1.1 million people will have to
be resettled.
It will threaten the river's wildlife.
The dam will alter the natural environment, and therefore, an
almost infinite number of species will be affected by the project.
The Three Gorges project will submerge some of China's most
famous historical scenery and tourist sites.
The weight of millions of tons of water behind a dam can increase
the chances of an earthquake.
The dam will disrupt heavy silt flows in the river.
It could cause rapid silt build-up in the reservoir, creating an
imbalance upstream, and depriving agricultural land and fish
downstream of essential nutrients.

Pros Vs Cons
Supporters say the benefits of the project far
outweigh the
The principal advantage of the project is to generate
power to keep pace with China's economic growth.
It is estimated that China's power output must rise
by 8 percent annually to keep pace with 6 percent
annual increase in gross national product.
In practical term, that means the nation's total 1990
power capacity of 130 million kilowatts must grow to
580 million by the year 2015.

Using Geography An Integrated Approach
P540 answer the following questions...
1.Discuss the benefits and problems of
hydroelectricity for both people and the
2.Explain the importance of the 3 Gorges
Dam specifically on Chinas development.
3.What economic costs and benefits will
the 3 Gorges Dam bring to China?