The project’s main aim was building of additional six turbines in a power plant which was underground and this was expected to be complete by 2011. Another target of the project was to merge two generators with thirty-two major turbines so as to supply adequate power to the main plant. The expected result was to increase the total generating capacity of the dam to 22,500 MW. The project further aimed at reducing downstream flooding and increasing the capacity of shipping in the Yangtze River.
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Scope of the project
The Three Gorges Dam, which is in China, is the largest power station in the world in terms of installed capacity. It spans through the Yangtze River, by the town of Sandouping in Yiling District, Hubei province.
It stretches more than two kilometres across the river. The dam, which is nearly 200 meters high, has a volume of 40 million cubic meters, and has created a reservoir, 600- kilometres in size (Alvarez 79). It has 14 generators in the north side that reach full capacity of 9,800MW and 7 generators in the south side that were completed in 2007.
Anticipated benefits of or justification of the project
The two power stations flanking the dam’s central spillway will operate 26 of the world’s largest turbine generators, which produce seven hundred megawatts each. Thus, the total generating capacity will be 18,200 megawatts that will be proportional to eighteen big nuclear power stations.
A total of 500,000-volt transmission lines will send electricity to Shanghai and other parts of East China, Central China and Eastern Sichuan Province (Carmen 21). The total output of the plant will be 84.7 billion kilowatt hours of electricity annually that is equivalent to burning 40 million tons of coal.
River Yangtze plays a very important role in the economy of the upper river area. This has been facilitated by the construction of the Three Gorges dam. In the upper region, navigation is almost the only means of long-distance and is cost-effective in terms of transportation of freight. 90% of the goods in Chongqing, the major port city in Sichuan Province, are transported by water.
The depth of water in Three Gorges reservoir that is more than 600 kilometres upstream of the dam has made this possible. Three Gorges has one of the largest ship locks system in the world. This enables the transportation of large quantities of cargo to the upper Yangtze.
Another anticipated benefit of this project will be to protect the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River against flooding to avert the tremendous losses that the people living along the river have suffered in the yester years. The Chinese government has appreciated that this dam has flood benefits. According to the management of the dam, the project averted floods in July 2007 by storing water that would have exceeded flood level below the dam. This benefit will be determined clearly, as time moves on.
Reduction on river sediment flow
The dam has reduced the flow of sediments down the Yangtze River. This river has traditionally carried a vast load of sediments from its upper reaches of the watershed to the East China Sea, supporting ecological processes in the river delta and the productivity of fisheries in the sea. The construction of the Gorges dam has however reduced rapidly the flow of sediment load downstream.
The dam’s reservoir is discharged every year mostly during dry seasons. This results to increased flow rate of the river downstream and provides fresh water that is suitable for agriculture (Carmen 34). This fresh water is both used in crop farming and also in livestock farming since its suitable for drinking. Constrains or risks are likely to affect the execution of the project.
Ecological problems have been projected to occur because of the construction of the dam and modification of watersheds, including impacts on the fisheries of Yangtze River basin. The basin has experienced a great reduction of fresh water fish species, with more than 360 fish species belonging to 29 families and 131 generated which is one of biggest problem that has hindered the development of this project.
Anticipated flood risks
Development of the Three Gorges dam has created fear amongst people living at the lower parts of the dam. The dam holds a volume of 40 million cubic meters of water which if overcome, the strength of the walls holding it would sweep thousands of people and properties worth millions downstream. This fact has caused a lot of tension on the development of project that might hinder its expansion.
The project is also facing opposition from people who were evicted from the dam’s cite. The Chinese government came up with policies and regulations aimed at protecting the rights of the people who were displaced by the project and this assured them enough compensation from the government. Despite this action by the government, there were still complains from human rights activists who complained that rural dwellers were discriminated and were not consulted regarding their eviction to pave way for the project.
The project is also facing opposition from various quarters that suggest improvised less costly alternatives such as cycle plants that are gas-fuelled and co-generators, produce virtually no greenhouse gases or any other form of pollution (Alvarez 81). The critics also added that water pollution will also rise since more factories will now be located to the reservoir’s edge hence pollutants will not be flushed out.
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Earthquakes and landslides
Earthquakes in the area surrounding the dam caused by water movement and the immense weight of the reservoirs water, have led to loss of life and properties which is a great disadvantage of the dam and its impact has out ruled its advantages. The frequent major landslides that have frequently disturbed the surface of the reservoir, are caused by erosion in the reservoir and this erosion is induced by rising water.
Start and finishing point of the project
Sun Yat-sen, of the International Development of China, was the first inventor of the Three Gorges Dam. Later, the Government of China went ahead to implement this project. It has been one of the largest projects ever implemented in the world. However, a lot has been accomplished over the years and up to date, a lot of field activities are still going on to enhance more development. So, in short, the development of this project is still in motion. The main purpose of this project was and still is the production of hydroelectric power. Other activities have come up because of this dam and they include fishing, farming and transportation.
Layout scale of the dam
The dam is made of concrete, 2335m long and 185m above sea level and so, the project required 27.2 million cubic meters of concrete, 463,000 tons of steel, and moved about 102.6 million cubic meters of earth. The dam holds water at its maximum of 175 m above sea level and its reservoir is on average about 660 kilometres in length and 1.12 in width.
Installation of 14 north side generators was another activity and they became completely operational when the water level reached 156m above sea level (Alvarez 83). The installation activity also included the 12 south side generators that also reached it full capacity at 14.1 GW and became the world largest hydro power plant by capacity. The dam will reach its full installation by 2012.
The Chinese government estimated about 180 billion Yuan on the Three Gorges Dam project. The project had spent about 148 billion Yuan, on which it spent about 64billion Yuan on construction, 68 billion Yuan on relocation of residents and 15 billion Yuan on financing. The government expects to recover its full expenditure when the dam generates power in full capacity.
Evaluation of social impact of the dam
This is a crucial activity of this project since it monitors the effect of the dam on people’s life in the surrounding. It provides baseline knowledge on social conditions and the impact the dam will have as it develops over time. This activity makes it possible to analyze whether the positive social impacts are more than the negative ones. These impacts can be measured by analyzing risk of impoverishment.
Analysis on public acceptance
This is another essential activity amongst others since it helps and helped to recognize the range of interest groups that should and did play the overall part in the decision-making and planning process. Discriminating and avoidance of all affected groups such as minorities, women, and others without a say in the political process undermines the overall effectiveness of this development project.
Consolidating of stakeholder groups and an acknowledgement of their rights brings undistributed credibility while on the other hand, granting permission through an agreed planning process brings equitable and sustainable resource development.
Comprehensive options analysis
This is another important activity on this project that involves evaluation of many options which include techniques applied on this section that are: risk assessment, impact assessment for a range of issues and life cycle assessment. Not all these three techniques can be avoided since they help to determine the options which are very equitable, profitable, and able to achieve all needs that are required.
Sustaining rivers and livelihood
In reference to this project, this activity mainly overlooks the environmental performance of this dam. Three Gorges dam is very large and on its implementation, such an activity like this one helps to peruse on the negative environmental impacts (Carmen 45). It is also important to know the extent of potential effects through ecosystem detailed critical inspection and environmental flow analysis.
Other activities on this project include installation of ship locks and lifts, relocation of residents, putting in place security measures, adding forest cover around the area to reduce soil erosion and landslides, locating fishing sites and bringing of new fish species. Others include building of harbors, acquisition of ships for both transportation and fishing, dividing plots for agricultural activities and establishing transportation routes both for people and cargo.
Alvarez, Alvin. China and the Three Gorges Dam. New York: Environment, 2009. Print.
Carmen, Reinhart. The Three Gorges Dam. New York: Princeton University Press, 2009. Print.