It was ten years ago today that China began to fill the reservoir behind the Three Gorges Dam. A hydro-electric dam that spans the Yangtze River in the town of Sandouping in the Yiling District of Hubei Province, the Three Gorges Dam is the world’s largest power station in terms of installed capacity at 22,500 M or 22.5 GW. (To put this in perspective for North American readers, this dam alone could easily power one-sixth of Canada, or the entire GTA — Greater Toronto Area — which is roughly one-sixth of Canada’s population.)
In comparison, the largest hydro-electric dam in the US, Grand Coulee Dam, only has a capacity of 6,809 MW or 6.8 GW, which is only 30% of the capacity of the Three Gorges Dam. This gives China 2 of the 10 largest power stations in the world, the other being the Longtan Dam on the Hongshui River in Tian’e Country of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region which produces 6,426 MW, or 6.4 GW. The only other countries to have 2 power stations in the top ten are Brazil (with the Itaipu And Tucurui Dams in second and fourth place) and South Korea (with the Uljin and Yeonggwang Nuclear Power Stations in ninth and tenth place).
It may have taken almost 20 years and 180 Billion Yen (26 Billion US), but this project was definitely worth it as it will generate approximately 100 TWh per year! While it will likely only produce 2% of the electricity required by China (which is a country of over 1.3 Billion people), it demonstrates the power of renewable energy sources and how a relatively small number of appropriately placed hydroelectric dams on China’s many rivers could generate a significant amount of the energy China requires!