Three Gorges Dam

Three Gorges Dam Hydropower Station is the largest hydropower station on the planet (as of 2020).
Three Gorges Dam is a super national project led by the Chinese government and built-in 1994. The project was completed (not include generator set) on May 20, 2006, and the total construction took about 17 years.
It is located in Sandouping Town, Yichang City, Hubei Province, China.
Three Gorges Dam is not only a hydropower station, it is a comprehensive project.
From an engineering perspective, it was divided into three main buildings: Three Gorges Dam, generator set, and navigation buildings.

Three Gorges Dam
The Three Gorges Dam in good weather, the scenery is very charming.

Main buildings

Three Gorges Dam

The Dam is the main part of the Three Gorges Hydropower Station.

Three Gorges Dam is a concrete gravity dam with a length of 2335 meters, a width of 115 meters at the bottom, a width of 40 meters at the top, an elevation of 185 meters, and a normal water level of 175 meters.

The dam body can withstand the mega-annual flood, and the maximum discharge flow can reach 100,000 cubic meters per second.The excavation and filling volume of the whole project is about 134 million cubic meters, the concrete pouring volume is about 28 million cubic meters, and the consumption of steel is 593,000 tons.
The total length of the reservoir is more than 600 kilometers, the average width of the water surface is 1.1 kilometers, the total area is 1084 square kilometers, the total storage capacity is 39.3 billion cubic meters, of which the flood control storage capacity is 22.15 billion cubic meters, and the adjustment capacity is seasonal.

Satellite map of Three Gorges Hydropower Station
Satellite map of the Three Gorges Dam,You can see the overall structure of the dam.

Generator set

The power generation turbine units of the Three Gorges Hydropower Station are arranged on both sides of the dam.

A total of 32 700,000-kilowatt hydro-generator units were installed, including 14 on the left, 12 on the right, 6 underground, and 2 50,000-kilowatt power units (to ensure the stability of the Three Gorges Dam’s own electricity) .

The total installed capacity is 22.5 million kilowatts. Far more than Brazil ’s Itaipu Hydropower Station, which ranks second in the world.

Generator set
Interior view of the power house on the left side of the Three Gorges Dam

Navigable building

The navigable buildings, including Class 5 permanent ship locks and ship lifts, are located on the left bank of the mountain.

The world’s largest ship-lift

Ship lift

three gorges ship lift

The total length of the Three Gorges ship lift is about 5000 meters, the tower height of the cabin section is 146 meters, maximum lifting height is 113 meters, maximum lifting weight is more than 15,500 tons, carrier is 132 meters long, 23.4 meters wide and 10 meters high .

The Three Gorges ship lift can lift ships of 3000 tons to cross the dam, and the time for crossing the dam has been shortened from 3.5 hours to 40 minutes.

The Three Gorges ship lift is the largest and most technically difficult ship lift project in the world (as of 2020).

Class 5 permanent Ship Lock

The Three Gorges Ship Lock is a five-level ship lock, which currently has (as of 2020) the largest level number of ship lock in the world.

The Class 5 permanent ship lock is a two-lane channel with a total length of 1607 meters on a single line. From low to high, they are No. 1 to No. 5 lock chambers. Each lock chamber is 280 meters long and 34 meters wide. The minimum indoor water depth is 5 meters.

The maximum height of the lock of the Three Gorges ship lock is 38.5 meters, and the maximum single door weight of the lock is 850 tons. It is the largest ship lock in the world.

Class 5 permanent ship lock
Five-level ship lock

Why should the Three Gorges ship lock be divided into five levels?

Three Gorges ship lock is five-level ship lock, so that the fastest passage of the ship takes about 2 hours and 35 minutes. Why is it designed this way?

When the water level drop is more than ten meters, the single-stage ship lock can work well.
But if the drop is more than 20 meters, such as the 113 meters drop of the Three Gorges Dam, it must use multi-level ship locks.

Tripping method

“The big ship climbs the stairs, the small boat rides the elevator”-two ways to visually depict the ship passing the dam. The “staircase” is five-level ship lock, and the “elevator” is ship lift.

They are the most technically difficult and largest shiplifts in the world.

Three Gorges Dam Navigable building
The navigable buildings can be clearly observed.

Role of the Three Gorges Project

Flood control

The floods in the Yangtze River are serious, and there will be a major flood every 10 years. Each flood will cause death and major economic losses.
The flood storage capacity reserved for the Three Gorges Reservoir during operation is 22.15 billion cubic meters, and the reservoir’s flood control can reduce the peak flow of floods by 27000-33000 cubic meters per second.
The Three Gorges Dam has the world’s strongest flood control capability.

Power generation

The Three Gorges Power Station is equipped with 32 700,000-kilowatt hydro-generator sets and 2 50,000-kilowatt hydro-generator sets, with a total installed capacity of 22.5 million kilowatts and an annual generating capacity of more than 100 billion kilowatt-hours.

three gorges dam 1
The beautiful Three Gorges Dam


The Three Gorges Reservoir will return water to Chongqing, a major town in the southwest. It will improve the shipping mileage by 660 kilometers and increase the annual one-way navigation capacity from 10 million tons to 50 million tons.
The Three Gorges Project is the most significant water conservancy project in the world to improve shipping conditions.

Drought resistance

Downstream drought, the Three Gorges can increase the intensity of water release to increase the discharge flow to effectively alleviate the situation of drought resistance. Solved some agricultural problems.

In summary, the Three Gorges Project is by far the most comprehensive water conservancy hub in the world.

Three Gorges Dam Data

Official name
China Yangtze Power
Sandouping Town, Yichang City, Hubei Province
US $31.8 billion ( ¥248 billion yuan)
Chinese government
In use
Dec-14, 1994
Opening date
May-21, 2003
Completion date
May 20, 2006
Total Duration
17 years
607 ft ( 185 m )
7,661 ft ( 2,335 m )
Building Volume
16,100,000 m³ ( 568,500,000cu ft )
Installed capacity
22,750 MW
32×700 MW
Type of dam
Gravity dam
Reservoi name
Three Gorges Dam Reservoir
Reservoir area
1,084 k㎡ (419 sq mi)
Original water level
66 m
Current water level
175 m
Reservoi Maximum length
600 km (370 mi)
Total capacity
39.3 km³ (31,900,000 acre ft)

Three Gorges Dam Location On Earth

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