The Three Gorges Project
2019-05-20 16:54

Located in the upper mainstream of the Yangtze River, the Three Gorges Project passed its final check and acceptance in September 2015. Since the opening of the Three Gorges Reservoir in June 2003, it has been operating safely for 16 years. Over this period, it has contributed greatly to flood control by defending the area from a flood in 2010 which was the worst in two decades, as well as two major floods in 2018. At the same time, it has generated over 100 billion kWh of green electricity.

People may wonder why such a project is named the Three Gorges. The name refers to the three splendid valleys of the Yangtze River where the project is situated. From west to east, they are Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge and Xiling Gorge, which people collectively refer to as the “Three Gorges”. Now, the Three Gorges Project adds new elements to the beauty of the Yangtze River Basin, and Chairman Mao Zedong once envisaged that “a project may break the wind and rain around Wushan Mountain, thus a plain lake surface will appear high above the valleys”. 

The construction of a water project on the mainstream of the Yangtze River needs not only bold ideas, but also scientific foundations. This bold idea was first put forward by Dr. Sun Yat-sen (the pioneer of the great democratic revolution in modern China) in his 1918 book entitled “A Plan for Nation Building”. Before 1949, the government of the Republic of China began to carry out feasibility studies for constructing such a project. Moreover, systematic scientific studies had been practiced from 1986 to 1992, and Chinese scientists conducted comprehensive and repeated rounds of feasibility studies on 14 subjects including biology, geology, sedimentation and water quality. Finally, project scale and main functions in relation to flood control, power generation, navigation and water resource utilization were determined.

The Three Gorges Project is mainly composed of three major parts: the dam project, the resettlement project, and the power transmission and transformation project. The dam crest elevation is 185 meters, the water storage elevation is 175 meters, the dam length is 2309.5 meters, the total installed capacity is 22.4 million kW, the total storage capacity is 39.3 billion cubic meters, the maximum navigable tonnage is 3,000 tons, and the static investment amounts to 135.266 billion RMB. After the completion of the Three Gorges Project, the flood control standard of Jingjiang section of the Yangtze River was raised to once in every 100 years. Its annual average capacity of power generation is 84.88 billion kWhs, equivalent to reducing annual coal consumption by 50 million tons.