50 Facts About The Three Gorges Dam

Last updated on November 27th, 2022

36. Spillway Ramp

Release water straight down? Not a good idea. The water’s tremendous force may erode the ground and damage the foundation. The solution? Make the water ramps curve upward to create vortices, dissipate energy, and prevent erosion.

37. Improved Design

The water ramp isn’t new. It’s a technique borrowed from the Grand Coulee Dam in the US. However, the curved sections are above the water in the Three Gorges, making the droplets fly into the air before landing 100 meters beyond the wall.

38. Shipping Solution

How do ships travel across the wall? They float higher and higher. The Three Gorges Dam has the most prominent ship lock in the world. After vessels enter, the door closes, and the water rises to make them float up and over the wall.

39. A Faster Way to Pass

Ships take four hours to pass through the locks. Cargo ships don’t mind, but passenger boats can be impatient. For faster transit, they can take the giant elevator. The mechanism can lift vessels weighing 3,000 tons!

40. Flushing Out the Sediment

Floods have a silver lining: they bring nutrients to the soil to improve harvests. By preventing floods, dams also trap sediments in the water. The Three Gorges Dam flushes them out by opening gates near the bottom of the wall, preventing build-up and helping farmers.

Random Facts About The Three Gorges Dam 

41. Slowing Down the Earth

How big is the Three Gorges Dam? Well, big enough to affect the Earth’s rotation! According to NASA, its operation increases the length of a day by 0.06 microseconds. It also made the planet a bit rounder in the middle and flat on the poles.

42. Comparing Energy Output

One is better than two. Three Gorges Dam makes more energy in a year than the world’s largest coal and gas-powered plants – combined! It’s far from perfect, but it helps reduce carbon emissions while solving China’s energy needs.

43. Battle of the Dams

The Itaipu Dam is small but mighty. The structure stands on a waterfall, so its turbines get a consistent flow of fast-moving water. It allows the South American wonder to produce more energy than the Chinese behemoth if seasonal droughts limit its production.

44. Forest Cover

It was a thriving ecosystem. In the 1950s, 20% of the area had forest cover. In 1997, it was down to 10%. The 1998 Yangtze floods pushed the government to restore tree cover, particularly upstream of the Three Gorges Dam. The area has been recovering since then.

45. The Birthplace of China

Most ancient civilizations rose near water. It’s the same for the first communities in China, which leaned on the Yangtze River for sustenance. The ancient cities of Guizhou and Wushan are now underwater in the dam’s reservoir.

46. Decreased Flood Frequency

Officials say that it’s worth the sacrifices. The region used to experience one disastrous flood every decade. With the dam, “superfloods” may only occur once every century. It will save countless lives and properties.

47. Increased Shipping Activities

The dam tames the wild Yangtze River. Controlled flow makes it safer for navigation. More ships can pass without worries throughout the year. They estimate that cargo will increase from 10 million to 100 million tons annually.

48. Rival on the Horizon

Records will always tumble. The proposed Grand Inga Dam in the Congo may dislodge the Three Gorges Dam if it pushes through. With an installed capacity of 40 to 70 gigawatts, it would be the largest power station in the world.

49. New China Dams

China is not resting on its laurels. It recently completed four smaller dams with a total capacity of 38,500 MW – nearly double that of the Three Gorges – to address its hunger for power.

50. Cultural Icon

The grandeur of the Three Gorges Dam draws people in. They hold various events around it, including mass weddings where couples promise their eternal love in front of their national symbol for strength and stability.

The Three Gorges Dam – quick facts and vital statistics

Official nameThree Gorges Dam
Coordinates30°49′23″N 111°00′12″E
Purposeflood control, power, navigation
Number of turbines installled32 × 700 MW
2 × 50 MW Francis-type
Installed capacity22,500 MW ( more than three times the capacity of the Grand Coulee Dam, the largest in the United States)
Type of damgravity dam
LocatedSandouping, Yiling District, Hubei
Owned byChina Yangtze Power
CostUS $31.765 billion
ImpoundsYangtze River
ReservoirThree Gorges Reservoir

Total capacity: 39.3 km3
Height181 m (594 ft)
Length2,335 m (7,661 ft)
Volume27.2 million m3
Spillway116,000 m3/s
Notes1. Did you know that it is one of the few man-made structures on Earth that's visible to the naked eye from space?
Last updatedNovember 26, 2022