Three gorges, the largest hydroelectric in the world!

In this article we are going to talk about the Three Gorges hydroelectric plant, this incredible engineering work guarantees electricity to millions of people in China, and is the largest hydroelectric plant in the world. Making China have a cleaner and less polluting energy matrix.

Three throats

The Three Gorges plant is located in China in the city of Sandoupingna on the Yangtze River, which is the third largest river in the world, second only to the Amazon River and the Nile River. The Yangtse River is very important for the Chinese economy and after the construction of the dam this became even more evident. Before the construction of the Three Gorges plant, this river was already the main river route in China and throughout its extension, Chinese agriculture developed.

Where the largest hydroelectric plant in the world is located.

Sun Yat-sen, who was a great political leader in China, already imagined a large dam across the Yangtze River, which in addition to generating electricity, one of the great functions thought by Sun Yat-sen was to control the floods that occurred during the along the river.

The Yangtse River has a history of frequent and tragic flooding, approximately every 10 years the river has a tendency to overfill, causing major flooding. In 1954 a large flood in the Yangtse River flooded an area of ​​193,000 km², killing 33,169 people and forcing almost 19 million people to move out of the region.

Three Gorges one of the largest buildings in the world

The Três Gorges plant is one of the largest works ever made by man in the world and began to be built on December 14, 1994, and with the exception of locks, the dam project was completed and fully functional from July 4, 2012.

In the construction of Três Gorges, 27.2 million m³ of concrete were used, most of which is used in the dam wall, which is 181 meters high with 110 meters of its wall above water level, 463 thousand tons of steel, which would be enough to build 63 Eiffel Towers and around 102 million m³ of land were moved.

Construction of the Three Gorges Dam.

The first main generator at the Três Gargantas plant started operating on July 10, 2003. And on May 23, 2012, generator number 26, the last main generator, finished its final test and went into operation. There are still underground generators in operation, totaling 32 generators with an incredible maximum capacity of 22.5 GW.

Main generator of the Three Gorges.

How to maintain the Yungtse River waterway

Yungtse River is one of the main river routes in China and of so many difficulties to build a dam on the river, the main one was to maintain the normal flow of boats and ships, to solve this, locks and elevators were built.


Lock is a hydraulic engineering work done where there are large water gaps, allowing boats to go up or down. At the Três Gargantas power plant, there are two ship locks installed near the dam, these locks are the locks, one for ascending and the other for descending vessels. Each lock consists of five stages with a transit time of approximately 4 hours.

The chambers of the two locks are 280 m long, 35 m wide and 5 m deep, carrying vessels with a maximum of 10,000 tons.

Ship lift

To maintain the normal flow of boats and ships, the largest river lift in the world was built, with a structure capable of transporting boats of up to 3,000 tons. The boat enters a chamber that is a kind of swimming pool that is 120 meters long by 18 meters wide and 3.5 meters deep. This chamber weighs about 15,500 tons, the mass moving in the elevator, including the counterweights is 34 thousand tons.

The world’s largest river lift is in China.

After the vessel enters the elevator, a counterweight structure descends, thus elevating the vessel to the top of the dam, then the vessel leaves the chamber at the top of the river. The process of lifting the vessels takes around 40 minutes, before installing this elevator, the process for locks used around 4 hours.

Itaipu X Three Gorges

Três Gorges is the largest hydroelectric plant in the world, but the Itaipu plant still has the annual record for electricity generation . To show the differences we go to the numbers taken from the site of the Itaipu plant and the CTGC site that manages the Três Gargantas plant.

  • Itaipu has 20 generating units against 32 units of Três Gorges
  • Itaipu has 14.GW of maximum installed power against 22.5GW of Três Gorges
  • Itaipu has 29 billion cubic meters of water in its reservoir, against 39.3 billion in Three Gorges
  • And Itaipu has a record of energy generation for a year that was 103.1 million megawatt-hours (MWh), against 101 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of Três Gorges

Which is the largest hydroelectric plant in the world Itaipu or Três Gargantas.

Itaipu is greater in electricity generation than Três Gorges, even with installed capacity 60% greater than Itaipu, the control of reservoir floods, the regularity of flow and also the consumption of the Chinese market compared to the Brazilian , makes Itaipu more productive than the Três Gorges plant.