The Three Gorges Dam (Der Drei Schluchten-Damm)

Term Paper, 2005

9 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Document Summary

1. Preface

2. Benefits of the Three Gorges Dam

3. Drawbacks of the Three Gorges Dam

4. Conclusion

5. Referencing List and Bibliography

1. Preface

The Three Gorges Dam, one of the largest engineering projects in the history of mankind, is on the brink of completion. The construction started in 1994 and once completed in 2009, it will be the world’s largest men-made reservoir with a capacity of nearly 40 billion m3 and a length of 663km, and will finally submerge an area of 1040km2.

(Miller et al. 2005; Yong n.d.)

The dam is located in Hubei province on the Yangtze, China’s longest river and the third longest river worldwide. (International Rivers Network 2004)

Sun Yat-sen first proposed the idea of this hydroelectric dam in 1919, but due to war, civil war and revolution the plan was shelved. Mao revived the thought in the mid 50s because of major floods, but the chaos of the Cultural Revolution buried it again until the economic reforms in the 70s and 80s underlined the urgent need for electricity for the rapidly growing country. ( 2006; Wikipedia n.d.; Kennedy 2001; Starr 2001) Premier Li Peng finally pushed it through the rubber-stamping National People’s Congress in 1992, but the project was so highly controversial, that a level of opposition occurred that was unprecedented before.

(166 delegates voted against the project, nearly one third abstained). (Starr 2001; Gamer 2003; Cannon 2000) At the moment, as the dam nears completion, the dispute between supporters and opponents continues within China as well as overseas.

In my essay, I want to bring forward the main arguments whether the Three Gorges Dam is a good thing for China or not.

In the following section I will highlight the multiple benefits of this project.

Subsequently, after going into detail concerning its disadvantages, I will finally survey if a single statement is possible and appropriate whether or not this project is favourable.

2. Benefits of the Three Gorges Dam

Starting with the advantages, the hydro-electric power generation has to be mentioned first. Since China’s economy is growing rapidly and its need for energy increases vastly, this is one of the key arguments for the dam.

Running at full capacity it is supposed to generate a potential of clean hydro-electric power of 18 gigawatt, i.e. 84.7billion kwh per year, as much as 18 nuclear power plants. (Cannon 2000; Miller et al. 2005)

One the one hand the TGD can therefore boost the energy supply by 9-10% (Saich 2001; Gamer 2003) which helps to avoid shortages and to continue the economic growth, on the other hand China’s energy generation is currently dominated by low quality sulphurous coal (80%, Wikipedia n.d.; usage doubled from 1980-2000, Cannon 2000) which worsens the regional ecologic conditions due to polluted air and highly acid rain. By replacing up to 60 million tons of coal (Starr 2001) with clean renewable energy the dams the dam contributes a lot to a cleaner environment.

Another major benefit is flood control of the Yangtze. The floods of 1991 gave the supporters of the TGD new impetus: According to (2003) the reservoir with its normal pool level will provide a flood control capacity of 22.15 billion cubic meters, which will be sufficient to control the greatest flood experienced in the past 100 years. Thus it will protect the lives of millions of people and 1.5 million hectares of farmland. Furthermore, it will significantly reduce the costs, which are currently necessary to maintain the dyke system downstream.

Moreover, the navigation will be improved to the effect, that after completion of the dam and all ship locks, vessels with up to 10,000 tons (instead of now 1,500 tons; 2006) are enable to ship into the nation’s interior and reach the metropolis of Chongqing. Shipping will assumably increase from 10 million to 50 million tons per year by this new west-east connection, while transportation costs are cut by 30-37 percent.

Besides, it will become safer since the three gorges have been notoriously dangerous to navigate. ( 2003)


Excerpt out of 9 pages


The Three Gorges Dam (Der Drei Schluchten-Damm)
University of Northampton
The political economy of China
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
382 KB
Three, Gorges, Drei, Schluchten-Damm), China
Quote paper
Matthias Kammerer (Author), 2005, The Three Gorges Dam (Der Drei Schluchten-Damm), Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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