The Three Gorges Dam

Three Gorges Dam

Three Gorges Dam, Sandouping, Hubei Province, China. Photograph by w:User:Nowozin. File from Wikimedia Commons

China’s Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River is the world’s largest hydroelectric project.  Built from 30 million cubic meters of concrete (10+07), it stands 606 feet tall (10+02) and spans 1.5 miles across.

While the Dam’s construction employed 60,000 workers (10+04), it also displaced 1.3 million people (10+06), leveled 1,350 towns (10+03) and destroyed 1,200 existing archeological sites–along with another 8,000 that were yet to be explored.

It was estimated in 1992 that the Dam would cost $8.3 billion to build.  However, at the time of its 2009 completion, China reported to have spent $23 billion (10+10), while others say the figure might have been as high as $88 billion.

The Three Gorges Dam holds back 10 trillion gallons of water (10+13) and produces roughly 84 billion kilowatt-hours of clean electricity a year.  That’s enough energy for one tenth of China’s entire population; nonetheless, this controversial project continues to raise concerns about the social, environmental and public safety impacts of such a large-scale venture.


Hats off to:
Facts and Details, The Design Observer Group, and the Smart Museum of Art, whose curator, Wu Hung, organized the exhibition Displacement: The Three Gorges Dam and Contemporary Chinese Art.

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