Three Gorges Dam is located in the middle of Xiling Gorge - the 3rd (and largest) of the Three Gorges on Yangtze River in China. Construction works started in 1994. The dam was completed (opened) in 2003 and became fully functional in July 2012. The project's cost was around USD 32 billion. The dam's full cost was recovered by the end of 2013.
In terms of capacity, Three Gorges Dam is the world's largest hydroelectric plant - with 22,500 MW power output. In 2014 it produced 98,8 TWh of electricity. For comparison, the previous world record was held by Itaipu Dam (Brazil-Paraguay border) which in 2013 generated 98,63 TWh of electricity.
The dam has a total of 32 turbines (China-designed, state-of-the-art technology). Each weighs about 6,000 tons and has capacity of 700 MW power output. Besides the electricity production, Three Gorges Dam was also intended to increase the river's shipping traffic by reducing its potential for floods downstream.
China is very proud of this project, regarding the dam as both social and economic success. Among the project's downsides is the flooding of several archaeological and cultural sites upstream. Due to Dam's construction, around 1,3 million people had to be displaced. The dam also caused ecological changes in the region, as the risk of hazards (like erosion, sedimentation, landslides and earthquakes) was increased.
Dam's ship lift was completed in the end of 2015. It has capacity to lift vessels with weight up to 3000 tons, max LOA length 120 m (394 ft), max width 18 m (59 ft) and max draft 3,5 m (11,5 ft). Transition time through the ship lift is 30-40 min. In comparison, transition through the canal locks takes 3-4 hours. The ship lift uses a helical gear system, and climbs or descends a toothed rack with vertical distance 113 m (370 ft).
Three Gorges Dam is included in the regular schedule of the world's largest river cruise ship - Victoria Sabrina. The 2020-launched riverboat has 7 decks, LOA length 150 m (492 ft) and max passenger capacity 690 (plus 195 crew/staff).
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