The Three Gorges Dam is a hydroelectric dam that spans the Yangtze River by the town of Sandouping, located in Yiling District, Yichang, Hubei province, China.
The Three Gorges Dam is the world's largest power station in terms of installed capacity (22,500 MW) but is second to Itaipu Dam with regard to the generation of electricity annually.
The Chinese government regards the project as a historic engineering, social and economic success, with the design of state-of-the-art large turbines, and a move toward limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
Except for a ship lift, the dam project was completed and fully functional as of July 4, 2012, when the last of the main turbines in the underground plant began production. Each main turbine has a capacity of 700 MW.
The Three Gorges Dam has become a symbol of China's efforts to join the modern world. Dr. Sun Yat Sen first suggested the dam in 1919, but it was not begun until 1994 and will not be completed until 2009.
The reservoir behind the dam will reach 410 miles (about half the length of California) up the Yangtze to Chongqing. Workers numbering between 20,000 and 30,000 have been working in shifts on a 24-hour schedule since 1994.
The dam's main purpose is to improve flood control and navigation on the river. In addition, the dam will increase electric power production in China by 20% in central China where it is really needed.
However, the dam has been controversial since its inception because of the 1.5 million people who will need to be resettled from over 1,000 towns and villages and the loss of precious farmland, endangered animal species, and historical sites.
The river was blocked in June 2003 at the end of phase 2 of the construction project, and the waters started to rise. In 2004, the water was 443 feet above sea level, but will eventually reach 575 feet above sea level in 2009.