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MODERN ENGINEERING MARVEL #5
  • Three Gorges Dam

    Three Gorges Dam

    The Three Gorges Dam, built on the Yangtze River in China's Hubei Province, is the world's largest hydropower project. Completed and fully functional in July of 2012, the dam has a combined generating capacity of 22.5 million kilowatts, the equivalent of fifteen nuclear reactors.

    Approximately 102.6 million cubic meters of earth was moved during construction. 7,661 ft long and 607 ft above sea level, the dam is made of concrete and steel. More specifically, 27.2 million cubic meters of concrete and 463,000 tons of steel. At maximum water level, the dam reservoir stretches 410 miles long and 3700 ft wide, flooding 244 square miles.

    The estimated cost of Three Gorges Dam is $22.5 billion. Full cost recovery is expected following ten years of full operation.

    The multi purpose dam not only produces electricity, but increases the Yangtze River's shipping capacity, reduces the potential for flooding during peak rainfall seasons and stores and distributes water during dry periods.

    Though an immense and remarkable engineering project, Three Gorges Dam is not without controversy. The dam displaced 1.3 million people, flooded cultural and archaeological sites and caused significant geologic and ecological changes.

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