China has undertaken the greatest project since the erection of the Great Wall and the Grand Canal -- the Three Gorges Dam project. The Three Gorges Dam will be the largest hydropower station and dam in the world, with a 1.2 mile stretch of concrete and a 370 mile-long reservoir and 525 feet deep. This project will cost more than virtually any other single construction project in history. The idea of building a dam across the Yangtze river to control flooding and to and to harness it for hydropower has been the dream of several generations of Chinese since the time of Dr. Sun Yat Sen, forerunner of China's democratic revolution. The first proposition for construction dates back to the year 1919, when Dr. Sun Yat Sen suggested to build a dam at the Three Gorges. Since 1954, Chinese and foreign scientists and engineers have devoted themselves to the planning, design and consulting work of the project.
The full-scale construction is currently underway and the projected completion date is 15 years away in the year 2010.
As planned, the capacity of Three Gorges dam, 17 million kilowatts, will top that of the largest dam currently operating by 40 percent. Its projected annual power generation of 84 billion kilowatt-hours is equivalent to a coal mine capacity of 40 to 50 million tons per year. The project will accommodate 1/9th of China's power needs. It will cost (in 1990 prices) as estimated RMB 57 billion ($ 10.57 billion). Once completed, the dam will be 185 meters high and store 39.3 billion cubic meters of water. It will create a reservoir 36 miles long and 525 feet deep.
Supporters say the benefits of the project far outweigh the costs. The principal advantage of the project is to generate power to keep...