Three Gorges Dam

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Three Gorges Dam
View of the main wall of the Three Gorges Dam during the construction phase, April 2006
View of the main wall of the Three Gorges Dam during the construction phase, April 2006
Tributaries: Yangtze River
Drain: Yangtze River
Larger cities on the shore: Zigui
Major cities nearby: Yichang, 38 km
Three Gorges Dam (Hubei)
Three Gorges Dam
Coordinates 30 ° 49 '23 "  N , 111 ° 0' 14"  E Coordinates: 30 ° 49 '23 "  N , 111 ° 0' 14"  E
Data on the structure
Lock type: Concrete gravity dam
Construction time: 1995 to 2008/2012
Height above valley floor: approx. 137 to 150 m
Height above foundation level : 181 m
Height of the structure crown: 185 m above sea level NN
Building volume: approx. 28 million m³
Crown length: up to 2335 m
Power plant output: 18.2 GW from 2008

22.5 GW from 2012

Data on the reservoir
Altitude (at congestion destination ) 175 m above sea level NN
Water surface 1,085 km²dep1
Reservoir length 663 kmdep1
Reservoir width on average about 1.6 kmdep1
Storage space 39,300,000,000 m³
= 39.3 km³
Design flood : 113,000 m³ / s
Yangtze longitudinal profile upstream.JPG
Elevation profile of dams on the Yangtze River
Model of the dam
Ship lock system of the dam during the construction phase (Nov. 2002)
Satellite image of the reservoir (the Three Gorges Dam is about 1/3 from the left edge; the center of the image belongs to the Gezhouba Dam, about 1/3 from the right edge) (July 2000)
Impeller of a Francis turbine for the hydropower plant

The Three Gorges Dam ( Chinese 三峽 大壩 / 三峡 大坝, Pinyin Sānxiá Dàbà , officially : 長江 三峽 水利 樞紐 / 长江 三峡 水利 枢纽Pinyin : Chángjiāng Sānxiá Shuǐlì Shūniǔ, "water management hub" of the Three Gorges ) is a dam with a hydroelectric power station , a double lock system and a ship lift in the Yangtze River in China ; it is located in Sandouping, 38 km upstream from Yichang in Hubei Province . With an installed generator capacity of 22.5 gigawatts, the hydropower plant is  the largest on earth, even if there are higher and longer dams and larger reservoirs . The reservoir created by the dam extends through the famous Three Gorges over 663 km to far after the port of Chongqing, 500 km away . The plant is operated by the China Three Gorges Corporation (CTG).


No other major project has been as controversial as this dam in the People's Republic of China in recent years . The proponents justify its necessity mainly with the improvement of the flood protection . For example, the Yangtze River floods in 1954 cost over 30,000 lives. The 1994 flood caused property damage of 20 billion euros. Other reasons for the construction were the generation of electricity ( hydropower plant ) and the improvement of shipping . The opponents feared disadvantages from the ecological consequences, the geological hazard potential and the socio-cultural consequences of the project.

At 6,380 km, the Yangtze is the longest river in China and the third longest on earth. On its way it flows from the Tibetan highlands through the Red Basin , then through the Three Gorges and finally into the plain of Yichang, until it flows into the East China Sea near Shanghai . Its catchment area is almost two million square kilometers; it comprises the habitat of a third of the Chinese population (total population about 1.3 billion people) and 25% of the Chinese arable land. The mean discharge of the Yangtze River is 32,500 m³ / s (for comparison: Rhine 2,330 m³ / s). It is also one of the most important inland waterways in China.

Differentiation of terms

Although the barrier structure of the dam is a dam , the English name “Three Gorges Dam” is usually incorrectly translated as “Three Gorges Dam” or “Dam”. This very common mistake can even be found occasionally in specialist literature and is due to the fact that no comparable distinction is made in the English vocabulary - the word "dam" can refer to a dam wall, a dam or an entire dam.



The idea of ​​using the Yangtze to generate energy had been around for decades. It was the dream of every great Chinese ruler to tame the unpredictable river. Sun Yat-sen first expressed his thoughts on this matter in 1919 .

Between 1944 and 1946, the United States Bureau of Reclamation , a US supervisory authority for water supply projects, was commissioned to design such a dam. When the time came, however, the project was stopped by the Chinese civil war . Even Mao Zedong (Chairman of the Communist Party ) tried in 1958 to implement the project, but this attempt failed because of the high construction costs.

When the Hubei province resurrected the project in 1969, Mao Zedong rejected the project for political and military reasons. As a replacement, the smaller Gezhouba dam was completed after 18 years of construction. It is 38 km below the Three Gorges Dam near the city of Yichang .

In the 1980s, the project became a key project in Deng Xiaoping's reform and modernization policy due to the increasing energy shortage . In 1985 the Three Gorges project was taken up again. Due to strong protests and concerns of the National People's Congress , in-depth studies were carried out in 1986. In 1986, on the basis of a bilateral agreement, a Sino-Canadian consortium was commissioned to carry out a feasibility study , which was financed by the World Bank and the Canadian government.

In 1992 the project was approved by a vote in the People's Congress, albeit with a negative record, because never before in the history of the National People's Congress has a decision been adopted by a majority of only two thirds. (Result: 1767 for, 177 against and 664 abstentions). Premier Li Peng , a former energy minister, was the main proponent of the project. Since any criticism of the project was forbidden, critics could only comment on it abroad. Project opponent Dai Qing's book was banned, prohibited from publishing, and imprisoned for ten months.

Construction process

The China Three Gorges Project Corporation (CTGPC) received the order from the Chinese state for the implementation planning and construction of the power plant, the lock systems and the ship lift.

On December 14, 1994, the upcoming start of construction was announced with an opening ceremony. On January 5, 1995, the first phase of construction, the construction of the catch dam as preparatory work for the construction of the dam, began. In order to maintain shipping, a 3.7 kilometer long canal had to be built through which the Yangtze River could be diverted and the ships could bypass the construction site. This work began in April 1995. The canal was opened to navigation on October 6, 1997. On November 8, 1997, the original course of the river was stopped.

Also in April 1995 work began on the dam, the power plant on the left half of the river, the double lock system and the ship lift. Up to 18,000 people were employed on this major construction site. Up to 350 truckloads of 20 tons of concrete each were installed every day.

On June 1, 2003 the weir fields of the dam wall were closed; so began the first partial flooding. On June 17, 2003, the passage of the first ferry through the five-stage lock system could be followed through a live broadcast on the entire country by the Chinese state television .

The first turbine with a nominal output of 700  megawatts went into operation on June 24, 2003 in the power plant on the left half of the river. At the end of 2003, 4 turbines were already delivering electrical energy. Almost three years later, on May 20, 2006, the Chinese state television broadcast another ceremony. At this point, construction workers poured the last concrete load onto the dam, completing the construction of the dam. The completion took place 9 months before the planned time (Feb. 2007). All 14 turbines of the left power plant were also in operation. Were delivered eight units consisting of generators , transformers and turbines through a joint venture of the companies Alstom , ABB , Kvaerner and the Chinese company Haerbin Motor . The remaining 6 units through the joint venture Voith , Siemens , General Electric and the Chinese company Oriental Motors .

The power plant with its 12 turbines on the right half of the river was also in operation until 2008. As a result, the originally planned output of 18.2 GW was achieved.

In the mountain on the right side of the river, an additional power plant was built using tunnel construction , in which 6 more turbines with 700 MW were housed. These were put into operation in 2012. With the two turbines, each with 50 MW, for the production of own requirements, the power plant output increased to 22.5 GW. The 20 turbines for the power plants on the right bank of the river and in the underground plant in the mountain were supplied by two newly founded Chinese companies. Through Harbin Power Equipment , which had acquired the know-how of Alstom, ABB and Kvaerner, and through Dongfang Electrical Machinery, which works according to the know-how of Voith, Siemens and General Electric.

Locks and elevator

A double lock system consisting of two parallel five-step lock stairs was created. With the entry and exit routes, the lock system is more than 6,400 meters long.

The ship lift was already drawn in and approved in the 1992 project plans . The first construction work began on April 24, 1995. However, the responsible experts at CTGPC were very concerned about the safety of the elevator system. A lifting technique with rope pulls was provided for the installation. The engineers feared that due to the colossal mass of the tub with the ship, the whole system would be unstable. This could lead to security risks. The lift was put on hold.

A joint venture from Lahmeyer International , Bad Vilbel and Krebs + Kiefer received the order to examine and possible feasibility of the existing project. They developed a new concept in which the ship lift is equipped with a rack and pinion drive and a rotary spindle. Counterweights on 256 steel cables were provided to balance the load. The concept was implemented in 2008. On September 18, 2016, the ship lift was finally put into operation. Thus, the last major construction work on the Three Gorges Dam was finally completed.


The cost of this gigantic structure was initially put at 26 billion US dollars; By 2002, however, already 50 billion US dollars had been built, so that estimates assume total costs of 75 billion US dollars by 2013. The dam is financed by the Chinese people, who are subject to a special tax, and 65% through loans from the state-owned Chinese development bank. Foreign investors are also involved in the project, the most important of which are the investment bank Morgan Stanley and the Canadian government.

The German federal government acts as guarantor for the billion-euro contract with Siemens .

Three Gorges Dam in April 2007

Technical specifications

  • Type of construction: gravity dam made of concrete
  • Construction time: from January 5, 1995
    • 1995 to 1997 construction of the 3.7 km long diversion canal for shipping
    • 1995 to 2003 Completion of the dam, double lock systems and power plant on the left half of the river. Start of electricity production with 4 turbines
    • 2006 Completion of the entire dam, all 14 turbines in the left power plant in operation
    • 2008 Completion of the power plant on the right half of the river and commissioning of all 12 turbines.
    • 2008 to 2012 construction of the additional, underground power plant inside the mountain on the right side of the river and commissioning of the 6 turbines.
    • 2008 to 2016 construction of the ship lift.
  • Length of the barrier structure: 2335 m including double lock system and ship lift
  • Crown length of the wall alone: ​​1983 m
  • Height of the barrier structure above the foundation: 181 m
  • Height of the top of the wall: 185 m above sea level
  • Highest congestion target : 180.40 m above sea level
  • Normal congestion destination: 175 m above sea level
  • Minimum service water level / lowering target : 145 m above sea level
  • Water level on the valley side (underwater) 62 m to 83 m above sea level
  • Difference in height of the water level upstream (normal reservoir target) / downstream max. 113 m (= max. Lift of the ship lifting system )
  • Storage capacity for floods: 22.1 billion m³
  • Total storage space: 39.3 billion m³ (for comparison: Lake Constance : 48.5 billion m³)
  • Water surface: 1,085 km² (for comparison: Lake Constance: 536 km²)
  • Reservoir length (at congestion destination): 663 km (other information: 620 km)
  • Regulated discharge in the dry season: 5,860 m³ / s.
  • HWE design flow rate: 113,000 m³ / s
  • Nominal output : 22.5  GW (since 2012), ( for comparison Itaipú : 14 GW)
  • Number of turbines with 700 megawatts: 32
  • Number of turbines with 50 megawatts: 2 (production of energy for own use)
  • Turbines used: Francis turbines
  • Standard work capacity : 84 TWh / a, corresponds to an output of 9.6 GW averaged over a year. This corresponds to 14% of the German electricity consumption in 2004
  • Flooded area: at normal water level 23,793 hectares of land
  • Flooded cities: 13
  • Flooded villages: 1350
  • Flooded factories: 657
  • Average reservoir width: 1.1 km or 1.6 km (various details)
  • Resettled people: around 1.3 million
  • Build volume:
    • Removal of earth and rocks: 8,789 million m³
    • Filling of earth and rocks: 3.124 million m³
    • Concrete: 26.71 million m³

Information partly taken from

After completion

After construction was completed, the operation of the plant was transferred to CTG , which had been renamed China Three Gorges Corporation (CTG) since 2009 . The Chinese state wants to have more large hydropower plants built on the upper reaches of the Yangtze. The CTG was commissioned to plan the Xiluodu , Wudongde , Baihetan and Xiangjiaba dams . The power plants to be built would have a total output of 45 GW, which would be twice the output of the Three Gorges Dam.

Flood protection

The proponents cited the following reasons for the construction of the Three Gorges Dam: influencing the natural runoff, the possibility of environmentally friendly electricity generation through hydropower , as well as an improvement for shipping and the prevention of flooding below the dam.

In the 20th century , more than three million people ( see here ) perished in the floods of the Yangtze River. In the last 15 years alone, there have been six flood disasters in China, each time thousands of people fell victim to the flood . The last “flood of the century” was in 1996. To help and to prevent worse things from happening, three million people were deployed as helpers on the Yangtze. But in the opinion of critics, it is not enough to just build a gigantic dam to prevent the flooding, but also to combat the causes. When it comes to devastating floods, people are all too happy to refer to heavy rainfalls alone, while man-made changes in the catchment area are often overlooked. The main causes for the annually recurring floods can be named:

  • The topographical features of China. From the up to 7,000 meter high Himalayan region in the west, the land steadily slopes down to sea ​​level in an easterly direction. The Yangtze River collects water from around 700 tributaries . In summer, when the snowmelt and monsoon rains coincide, the risk of flooding increases.
  • The deforestation of the forests along the Yangtze River is considered a serious issue. Once these forests reduced and slowed down the runoff of precipitation. Today it flows unreservedly into the river. However, there were devastating floods even before the forests were cleared.
  • The drainage of numerous lakes in the Yangtze River area is another cause. This was justified with the acquisition of urgently needed arable land to supply the steadily growing population. These lakes were lost as retention areas for the tributaries to the Yangtze. One example is the Hubei region , which had around 1,066 lakes in 1949, but only 325 today. However, there were also devastating floods in times before the lakes were drained.

Critics also point to the continued risk of flooding below the dam. The dam has no influence on the tributaries of the Yangtze, such as the Huai He.

Energy generation

Energy generation over the course of the year (2008)

Coal-based power generation currently covers 75 percent of the electricity needs of the People's Republic of China. Coal-fired power plants cause large greenhouse gas emissions , making them one of the main sources of man-made global warming . However, China's total energy consumption will undoubtedly increase significantly in the near future as a result of the great economic growth . The gradient gained by the construction of the dam is therefore used to generate energy. The standard energy capacity of the original power plant with a nominal output of 18.2 GW was 84.7 TWh of electrical energy.

In 2012, the power plant was expanded to include more turbines, which means that the nominal output is now 22.5 GW. According to an AFP report, the actual energy generation in 2014 was 98.8 TWh and thus exceeded the originally expected standard energy capacity by 16.64%. In addition, the plant was the most productive power plant in the world. At the same time, the hydropower plant prevented the generation of electricity from around 49 million tons of coal, which avoids the emission of several dozen million tons of carbon dioxide per year from fossil fuels. At the same time, these figures result in a capacity factor of approx. 50%, the average output was approx. 11.3 GW.

In 2016 the Three Gorges Dam delivered 93.5 TWh. In order to achieve the maximum energy yield, however, a constantly high operating water level is required in the reservoir. This creates a conflict between the two main goals, namely energy generation on the one hand and flood protection on the other.

Energy transfer

The electricity generated is mainly directed to the provinces in the east, for which a total of 9,100 kilometers of high-voltage lines had to be built. The energy supplied is not only required for private households, but also for the industrial development of previously underdeveloped provinces such as Sichuan .

The technology of high-voltage direct current transmission (HVDC) is also used to transmit the electrical energy provided by the Three Gorges Dam . The bipolar HVDC Dreischluchtendamm – Changzhou is 940 km long, is operated with a direct voltage of ± 500 kV and is designed for the transmission of 3 GW.

Navigability and infrastructure measures

Before the construction of the dam, the navigability of the Yangtze was restricted by the extremely fluctuating water depth. In addition, its high, narrow gorges were a threat to shipping. Narrow fairways were available through various gorges, which could only be crossed in "one-way traffic". When the reservoir was flooded, the gorges became wider. The water depth increased by an average of 70 meters. The increase in transport capacity also reduced transport prices, making the ports more attractive and lucrative. The port of Chongqing, about 2,250 km away from the river mouth, can now be approached with 10,000- ton ships. In 2011, goods transported through the locks reached 100 million t, before the construction of the dam it was only 18 million t. In 2015 it was already 120 million t.

Since a passage through the lock system takes about 4 hours and the lock capacity is limited, longer travel times must be expected due to traffic jams in front of the lock entrances. Since the ship lift went into operation on September 18, 2016, the situation has eased somewhat, which has given passenger shipping a great deal of relief. It now only takes 40 minutes to climb the 110 meters in altitude in the elevator.

A primary goal of the three gorges project was, in addition to reducing the risk of flooding, to develop the previously underdeveloped central China. To this end, extensive measures to improve the infrastructure (railway network, motorways, airports) were implemented. A tremendous economic upswing set in along these new traffic routes, with new, modern cities, a point that must be taken into account in the overall evaluation of the three gorges project.


The tourism is an important source of income in the Three Gorges area, but parts are flooded by the, such as China's Lorelei, which will only be observed even as breast image. Critics assume that the previous attraction of a boat trip through the Three Gorges will be lost after the complete impoundment, while the proponents of the project point out that with more than 1,000 m high rock walls a reduction of the gorges by about 90 m only has a minor impact and the panorama of the gorges remains impressive enough. Even if the landscape with its high rock faces and striking rock peaks is largely preserved, the passage of the three gorges loses its drama for tourists. The journeys over a raging Yangtze River are already a thing of the past. On the other hand, the Three Gorges Dam is in itself a tourist attraction that brings money to this region.

Ecological impact

Water level mark along the Yangtze River

Many nations have realized that the long-term consequences of such a huge structure cannot be foreseen. Some studies were not published where they could be foreseen. In China, two types of opponents have been politically immobilized: environmentalists and the military. Apart from the more well-known environmental concerns, it was completely clear to the military that the dam would be a sensitive target in the event of a military conflict.

The USA has announced that it will no longer build such gigantic buildings because the ecological damage is too great. Billions of dollars are already being invested to repair the effects of the existing impoundments . China, however, carried out the Yangtze River project despite warnings from some scientists about the size of the reservoir.

One problem is that the Yangtze River carries large amounts of quicksand and sediment . Measurements from the hydrological station at Yichang showed an annual load of around 523 million tons. Given the high drainage of the Yangtze, this results in around 1.19 kilograms per cubic meter. During the construction of the Gezhouba dam , a concept was developed in which the deposits behind the dam are flushed out annually through sediment sluices. This concept has been adopted.

The retained sediment is also no longer available downstream. So far, it has been deposited on the fields near the river during floods , thereby improving the nutrient content of the soil. In addition, the normal erosion on the river bed has so far been compensated for by fresh sediment from the upper reaches. If this does not happen, there is a risk that the river will deepen and the water table will sink.

In addition, a large number of animal and plant species are threatened by the project, as their natural habitat is being destroyed. Affected are:

  • 2,862 plant species
  • 335 discovered fish species such as the Chinese sturgeon ( Acipenser sinensis ), the Yangtze sturgeon ( Acipenser dabryanus ) and the sword sturgeon ( Psephurus gladius ) are threatened with extinction due to the construction of the dams.
  • 22 animal species that are on the red list of extinct animal species, such as the Chinese alligator ( Alligator sinensis ), are also threatened . The Chinese river dolphin ( Lipotes vexillifer ), which was declared extinct in 2007, was also threatened .

In order to protect the animal species, the aim is to build a reserve on a cordoned off arm of the Yangtze River that is largely intact from an ecological point of view . However, critics fear that toxins from landfills and factories could dissolve in the water. In addition, there is the methane gas produced by the rotting of the vegetation in the flooded areas.

A study published in 2005 (Xian et al. (2005), see literature) has shown that the Three Gorges and Gezhouba Reservoirs have already had negative ecological consequences: Several hundred kilometers below the dam wall, in the tidal estuary on the Yangtze River , a sharp increase in immigrant jellyfish species has been observed. Due to the reduced runoff and the associated reduced sediment load, more salt water flows from the sea into the estuary at high tide, creating ideal conditions for the jellyfish. The problem is exacerbated by the overfishing of the edible jellyfish Rhopilema esculentum, which previously lived in the estuary .

After only five years of operation, since the commissioning of the first 12 generators, a cabinet meeting was called by the Chinese government to solve the problems identified. Another 300,000 people are to be resettled, as the changing water levels soften the riverbank regions and trigger landslides. Geological problems are not excluded. The enormous water pollution should be combated. The chemical equilibrium is disturbed by the lower flow rate. Shipping is severely hindered by the locks. There are long waiting times. The planned tonnages cannot be achieved.

Forced relocation

The flooding not only sank habitats for plants and animals, but also lost many historical and cultural sites, including 5,000-year-old graves and ancient rock paintings. Some sites were dismantled and rebuilt in higher places. Individual objects were prepared for future diving tourism. Today entire cities, countless villages and factories are under water. Some examples are the temple city of Fengdu with its archaeological sites, Wanxian (140,000 inhabitants) and Fuling (80,000 inhabitants).

Problems arose from the resettlement. Up to two million people had to be resettled. Most of them were farmers who had to forego the productive alluvial land on the banks of the Yangtze and move to the higher areas. But these karst highlands with a harsher climate are poorly suited for agriculture. Experts say that these high altitudes will yield only a fifth of the yield of the alluvial land. Along the tributaries, which were also affected by the damming, the population was forced to move from the fertile farmland in the valley to the steeper slopes. However, these newly terraced slopes can only be planted with special crops, v. a. Oranges.

The critic Dai Qing feared that the resettlers would not receive equivalent housing and financial compensation as promised by the government. The resettlers, mainly farmers, were dissatisfied with the accommodation they were allocated and the compensation of the equivalent of 3,000 euros partially perished in the corruption swamp. The living conditions have deteriorated massively for many people. Hundreds of thousands did not find work. The older generation was particularly affected, while their children were able to benefit from the possibility of a good education in newly built, modern companies and schools by moving to larger cities.

The fish stocks in the reservoir are also to be reduced, so that the fishermen will also lose part of their livelihood. As early as 1995 it was assumed that 3.2 to 4.5 million people would be affected by ecological problems. In October 2007 it was decided that another 4 million people would have to be relocated for ecological reasons.

Operational problems

Since there are no state-regulated waste disposal systems on the Yangtze, the population dispose of their rubbish via the waterway. With more than 150 million people living upstream, the constant discharge of sewage and waste into the river is becoming a major problem. Just one year after the first damming in 2004, 1.3 million tons of garbage and 1.3 billion tons of wastewater were disposed of in the Yangtze. In August 2010 the lock system threatened to become blocked. All the rubbish accumulated in front of the dam to form a garbage carpet of more than 50,000 m², with a thickness of 60 cm.

The garbage could block the lock gates or damage ships. Therefore, 100 workers with 15 special boats are on the lake and fish about 600 tons of rubbish every day. According to the operator China Three Gorges Corporation , around 200,000 cubic meters of waste in front of the dam is fished every year and disposed of in landfills in the area. This results in costs of over one million euros per year.

The financial resources made available by government agencies for 140 planned sewage treatment plants were partially misappropriated by the respective administrative authorities and the construction of the necessary plants was suspended.

The annual monsoon rains in the summer months can lead to operational problems. If the snowmelt creates additional water, the risk of flooding increases. The Three Gorges Dam and the Gezhouba Dam reduced their production capacity by two thirds in July 2017. This measure reduces the water runoff from the power plant. This can reduce or even prevent flooding of the plains downstream.

Security risks

Even before the project was carried out, those in charge of the military expressed great concerns. In the event of a military conflict or an act of terrorism , the dam would be a sensitive target. It was not until September 2013 that China's Prime Minister Li Keqiang was able to sign the “Ordinance for the Protection and Safety of the Three Gorges Dam”. The military, the province of Hubei, the city of Yichang and the operating company China Three Gorges Corporation (CTG) are involved in the security concept. The military committee will deploy four anti-aircraft missiles , 24 brigade helicopters , eight patrol boats and 4,600 armed soldiers to protect the dam

The Chinese government was aware that shortly after completion of the dam, more than one hundred cracks in the concrete were found. Some of them were over 30 meters long and 3 meters deep into the 115-meter-thick wall. Due to corruption within the Chinese authorities, building materials of inferior quality were sometimes used in the construction of the wall. About a hundred officials were sued and sentenced for the corruption allegations. Despite these known shortcomings, the reservoir was flooded in 2006. The dam wall at the bottom of the valley is subjected to a pressure of around 140 tonnes per square meter due to the amount of water that has built up.

The dam is located in an earthquake- prone area, near a geological fault . The head of the geological institute in Sichuan, Professor Fan Xiao, does not rule out problems caused by the tectonically unstable subsurface based on new geological investigations . The weight of the enormous water masses can compress the earth's crust, which can lead to discharges of existing tensions in the subsurface. The dammed up water softens the banks, which can trigger landslides and corresponding tidal waves. Xiao refers to the 2008 Sichuan earthquake that damaged the Zipingpu Dam . According to Professor Xiao, the number of minor earthquakes has increased since the flood.

Since it is forbidden to criticize the government in China, a statement by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao was astonishing : “Some of the problems with the dam were already apparent during the planning work. Your solution was postponed until after the commissioning. Others were recognized but could not be effectively resolved due to the restrictions at the time ”. There is "an ongoing need for action in order to solve the problems caused by its construction and to prevent geological catastrophes".

In the event of a structural failure of the barrier, experts expect 15 million deaths in the Yangtze River valley. The Chinese government emphasizes that the structure could also withstand a magnitude 7 earthquake .


Hong Kong newspapers reported in 2001 that in early May 2000 state construction companies embezzled the equivalent of around 125 million euros in connection with the Yangtze River project. A party-affiliated Beijing business newspaper previously reported a corruption case worth around 60 million euros. In the latter case, about a hundred officers were found guilty.

Corruption is being severely prosecuted in China, but anyone who draws attention to it is also prosecuted.

In April 2001, four farmers from the area around "Gaoyang" in "Yunyang" district in Beijing were on trial for passing on information to the international press about corruption in connection with compensation payments . The four defendants: He Kechang, Ran Chongxin, Jiang Qingshan and Wen Dingchun had given the international press specific information about the corruption in the dam project. The four wanted to submit a collection of signatures to the relevant government agency in Beijing in connection with the compensation money that had been missing for a long time. They were arrested in Beijing and found themselves in court. (Source: AFP-Jiji). Human Rights Watch and Probe International .23.

Other incidents occurred around corn farmer and civil rights activist Fu Xiancai, who grew up in what is now the flood plain . He also traveled to Beijing to personally hand over a petition to those responsible in the complaints authority regarding outstanding compensation payments, with thousands of signatures from the farmers concerned. After returning to Zigui County, Hubei Province , he was detained for five days for no reason. He repeatedly complained about the lack of compensation for the farmers. After a critical interview with the ARD magazine Tagesthemen in May 2006 , Fu was interrogated by the local police about the interview. On the way home, the civil rights activist was brutally beaten and injured so badly that he has since been paralyzed from the neck down. more information ▶ The local authorities also refused to pay for a vital operation. Only the German embassy financed the intervention. Human rights activists around the world protested against this practice by China.

The protests that lasted for years had an effect. Beijing had to admit that corruption cases are known. State auditor Li Jinhua reviewed the 2004 and 2005 relocation expenses in Chongqing City and Hubei Province. He found misappropriated funds totaling 272 million yuan. His investigation report was published in China's newspapers.

Water for the north

Another project that is closely related to the construction of the dam was approved in 2002: In the northern provinces, many cities suffer from water shortages, as water consumption has risen sharply due to population growth and industrial settlements. A water supply network consisting of three canals was planned. Water from the southern areas, and especially from the Yangtze, is to be pumped to the north. Construction of the canals on the eastern and middle routes began in 2002. In 2014, the first water flowed to Beijing and other cities. The eastern canal provides a transport capacity of up to 2 billion m³ and the middle canal up to 8 billion m³ of water. The construction costs amounted to 66 billion euros. The heavily controversial canal on the western route is to be built by 2050. See the south-north water transfer project .

See also


  • Mathias Döring: The Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtzekiang. In: Wasserkraft und Energie 3/2004, pp. 2–32.
  • Dai Qing : The river dragon has come! The Three Gorges Dam and the Fate of China's Yangtze River and Its People . Sharpe, Armonk NY 1997, ISBN 0-7656-0205-9 .
  • Achim Gutowski: The Three Gorges Dam in the PR China: Background, cost-benefit analysis and feasibility study of a large project taking development cooperation into account . Institute for World Economy and International Management, Bremen 2000.
  • Lorenz King, Marco Gemmer, Martin Metzler: The three gorges project on the Yangtze - Giessen research group examines the effects of the world's largest dam project. - Spiegel der Forschung 19/1, pp. 38–45, 2002. PDF
  • Lorenz King, Heike Hartmann, Marco Gemmer, Stefan Becker: The Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze - A major construction project and its importance for flood protection. - Petermanns Geographische Mitteilungen 5, pp. 26–33, 2004.
  • Jens-Philipp Keil: The Three Gorges Project and its effects on socio-economic development in the Xiangxi catchment area in the province of Hubei, PR China . Diploma thesis, Justus Liebig University Gießen, Gießen 2002, urn : nbn: de: hebis: 26-opus-47036 .
  • Alexandra Rigos , Zeng Nian: The Taming of the “Long River” . In: Geo . No. 6/2003 , ISSN  0342-8311 , p. 20-46 .
  • Trouw, Jan: China's Three Gorges Dam and Farmer Relocation: How the Dam is Changing Farmers' Everyday Life . Books on Demand, 2014, ISBN 978-3-7357-1884-6 .
  • Weiwei Xian, Bin Kang, Ruiyu Liu: Jellyfish Blooms in the Yangtze Estuary . In: Science . No. 307 (5706) , 2005, ISSN  0036-8075 , pp. 41 .
  • Ute Wörner: Dam endangers Chinese fish stocks . In: Naturwissenschaftliche Rundschau . 58th year, no. 6 , 2005, ISSN  0028-1050 , p. 330-331 .


Web links

Commons : Three Gorges Dam  - Collection of pictures, videos, and audio files


Individual evidence

  1. a b c Final Turbine at China's Three Gorges Dam Begins Testing . Report dated May 2011. Retrieved January 12, 2019
  2. Christine Faustmann: Dreischluchtendamm on the Yangtze River - the largest hydroelectric power plant on earth . Matura thesis Geography & Economics, BG / BRG / BORG Hartberg 2002. Accessed on January 12, 2019
  3. Lorenz King, Marco Gemmer, Martin Metzler: The three gorges project on the Yangtze - Giessen research group examines the effects of the world's largest dam project. - Spiegel der Forschung 1/20: pp. 38–54, 2002. Full text (PDF)
  4. a b Chronicle of the Three Gorges Dam , from September 20, 2006. Retrieved on February 20, 2019
  5. Frankfurter Allgemeine: Drei-Schluchten-Staudamm, locks free , report from June 17, 2003. Accessed on February 22, 2019
  6. ORF extra, News: The last batch of cement . May 20, 2006. Retrieved January 12, 2019
  7. a b c BOKU University for Soil Cultures, Vienna. Excursion to earthworks and foundations, China 2015; Authors: Aschinger, Diermayr, Gullner, Hochreiter, Hörander, Trettler: Drei Schluchten Sperre ( Memento from January 15, 2019 in the Internet Archive ), partial report October 2015. Accessed on January 12, 2019
  8. The location of these turbines could not be determined
  9. GegenStrömung, by Christian Russau: The business with hydropower . 2016. Retrieved January 12, 2019
  10. a b c d World's largest shiplift completes China's Three Gorges project , report of September 19, 2016. Accessed January 12, 2019
  11. The world's largest ship lift goes into operation on the Yangtze in China , report from October 4, 2016. Accessed on February 20, 2019
  12. Three Gorges project in China, China Fangzheng press, chief editor: Lu Jin 2008, ISBN 978-7-80216-473-4
  13. a b Three Gorges Dam achieves world record for electricity production. In: (Frankfurter Allgemeine). January 3, 2015, accessed January 5, 2016 .
  14. focus online: Drei Schluchten Damm: consequential damage and consequential costs . Report dated May 19, 2011. Retrieved January 12, 2019
  15. Bogumil Terminski: Development-Induced Displacement and Resettlement: Theoretical Frameworks and Current Challenges , Geneva, 2013. Accessed January 12, 2019
  16. ^ Hydraulic engineering: Current principles - New developments by Theodor Strobl, Franz Zunic, page 230.
  17. Eckhard Freiwald: The Three Gorges Dam in China: The largest dam project in the world . TORO-Verlag, 1997, ISBN 3-922732-83-6 .
  18. J. Akkermann / Th. Runte / D. Krebs, Ship lift at Three Gorges Dam, China - design of steel structures ( Memento from July 19, 2011 in the Internet Archive ), (PDF; 1.8 MB), a special reprint from: Steel Construction 2 (2009), No. 2. Retrieved January 12, 2019
  19. China Three Gorges Corporation, Overview: CTG, A Global Developer . Retrieved January 15, 2019
  20. Jakob Strobel y Serra: Life and death flow in the vein , Frankfurter Allgemeine (online), May 17, 2001. Retrieved January 17, 2019
  21. Neue Zürcher Zeitung : Beginning of the flooding on the Yangtze . June 3, 2006. Retrieved January 12, 2019
  22. Business The World's Largest Power Plant Prevented 100 Million Tons Of Carbon Emissions In 2014 , AFP, January 2, 2015. Accessed January 12, 2019
  23. : Energy record at Drei-Schluchten-Damm , January 3, 2016. Accessed January 12, 2019
  24. News: China Three Gorges generates 206 TWh of electricity in 2016 , January 10, 2017. Accessed January 12, 2019
  25. People's Daily : Tower Columns for Three Gorges Shiplift to Be Built . February 27, 2012. Retrieved January 12, 2019
  26. Lorenz King, Marco Gemmer, Stefan Becker, Heike Hartmann, Jens-Philipp Keil, Christoph Seeber: The Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze: Aspects for evaluating a mega project. - In: Gamerith W. (Ed.): Future region China and India . Passauer Kontaktstudium Geographie, pp. 51–70, 2012.
  27. In Web China Travel Service: The Aquarium for Chinese Sturgeons ( Memento from August 26, 2006 in the Internet Archive ). Retrieved March 11, 2019
  28. : The first whale species to be exterminated by humans: the Chinese river dolphin . Retrieved March 13, 2019
  29. Focus online: Drei-Schluchten-Damm, consequential damage and consequential costs . Report dated May 19, 2011. Retrieved March 13, 2019
  30. Christoph Seeber, Lorenz King : Resettlements on the Yangtze - a success? Extent and consequences of land use change in the Three Gorges region. - Spiegel der Forschung 1/20: pp. 50–63, 2010. Full text (PDF)
  31. archive: Up to four million Chinese are expected to lose apartments , October 12, 2007. Retrieved on January 12, 2019
  32. Spiegel online: Masses of rubbish threaten to clog the Three Gorges Dam , August 2, 2010. Accessed January 12, 2019
  33. Science Dam could trigger disaster , report from September 27, 2007. Retrieved January 5, 2019
  34. Science The Yangtze is alive - a little, anyway , report from November 2, 2007. Retrieved January 12, 2019
  35. : Around 4000 tons of garbage fished from Drei-Schluchten-Damm . November 4, 2010. Retrieved January 12, 2019.
  36. Berliner Danger for humans and nature: A carpet made of plastic pours into the sea . By Finn Mayer-Kuckuk, on October 13, 2017. Retrieved January 12, 2019.
  37. Reuters World News: In drastic move, China's top hydropower plants slash capacity . Report dated July 4, 2017. Retrieved February 19, 2019
  38. a b Epoch Times China tightens safety at the Three Gorges Dam . Report by Maria Zheng, dated September 19, 2013. Retrieved January 12, 2019
  39. ^ Spiegel Online, A. Lorenz, A. Bojanowski: Earthquakes in China: Researchers warn of destructive reservoirs , April 29, 2013. Retrieved January 12, 2019
  40. Spiegel Online, the dam could have started an earthquake . Report dated February 5, 2009. Retrieved January 12, 2019
  41., by Johnny Erling China's Three Gorges Dam becomes a debacle , report from May 20, 2011. Accessed on January 12, 2019
  42. Probe International: Farmers to face trial after China dam project corruption exposed , AFP March 28, 2006. Retrieved January 12, 2019
  43. Fu Xiancai
  44. Embezzled money for people displaced from dams on a large scale . Report by Johnny Erling, dated January 26, 2006. Retrieved August 5, 2020
  45. Global Times Biggest water transfer project ever benefits 100 million in China . Report dated June 21, 2017. Retrieved January 12, 2019
  46. Arte information on the film China's megalomania on the Yangtze. ( Memento from February 25, 2010 in the Internet Archive ). Retrieved January 12, 2019