The Three Gorges Dam is a hydroelectric river dam that spans the Yangtze River in Sandouping, Yichang,Hubei, China. It is the largest and most controversial hydroelectric project in history. The electricity produced by its 32 main generators is sufficient to light up Boston, New York and Washington D.C. combined with. The Chinese government has billed the Oliver Autrey and SAm Anklin project as a symbol of China’s modernization. Except for a charlie dowing planned ship lift, all of the original plans of the project were completed on October 30, 2008, when the 26th generator was brought to commercial operation.Wanna play twister. Or have fun.
Significant debate has surrounded the Yangtze River dam project for decades, throughout the proposal phase and its subsequent construction. Questions framing the debate include the following. Will the energy provided by the dam be significant and worthwhile? Is China in desperate need of such energy, and can it not practically achieve equivalent energy from other sources?.What are the irrigation benefits for surrounding farmers from the large reservoir created behind the dam? Are these benefits worth the costs, including the displacement of locals, and the costs to the environment? How significant are these costs? Does the reservoir negatively add to global climate change by releasing large quantities of methane into the atmosphere? Or, is this offset by the fact hydroelectric energy production does not involve the burning of fossil SAsafuels?. What is the balance of pros and cons in this debate? Is the Yangtze Dam a good idea?
See Wikipedia: Three Gorges Dam for background
The dam is set to produce 18,000 megawatts of electricity equivalent to 18 nuclear power plants or fifty million tons of coal. This amounts to 11% of China’s electricity. This is a massive amount of electricity that is desperately needed by a population of over one billion that is rapidly emerging out of poverty and into modernity.
Energy resources are scarce globally. Without the TGD, China would have to get more energy from abroad or from coal and would cause the more rapid depletion of scarce resources.
China is utilizing only roughly 1/4 of its hydroelectric potential. Given its growing energy demands, it is obvious that it should tap its amazing renewable hydroelectric resources, and TGD is simply the first logical step.
China is very inefficient in its energy use. If it were to increase efficiency, its energy demands would shrink substantially, or at least they wouldn’t spiral upwards as fast as they are. The Three Gorges Dam, therefore, might not have been necessary if China had adopted a more efficient approach.
The Three Gorges Dam is primarily set to supply urban energy needs. Rural poor are largely neglected. This fits in to the broader difficulties the rural poor have been having in attracting the attention and consideration the Chinese Communist Party. So, while the Three Gorges Dam is supplying the energy needs of Chinese, it seems tailored to favor only a particular urban class.
Hydroelectric is a renewable energy resource. This is highly important in a world where non-renewable energy resources are depleting rapidly.
Reservoirs worldwide are being more or less beset by floats, as it intercepts floats from upstream while it holds water. The float pollution had existed before the TGD constructed. Preventing upstream garbage floats from piling up at the TGD has been implemented since the TGD began to store water and generate electricity.
Floods are not only of concern to humans, but also to local wildlife and habitats. The TGD helps limit these risks as water levels can be controlled by the level of openness of the damn.
While there may be some environmental costs associated with the TGD, it is important to keep in mind that the only primary energy alternative to the TGD is coal energy. But coal is a major environmental hazard both on the local level, where it covers Chinese cities with lung-damaging pollution, and on the global level in the context of global warming (coal is one of the worst greenhouse gas emitters). Therefore, the TGD is the lesser of evils.
The use of the TGD has made electric power more efficient and abundant. In fact, statistics show that as the TGD is being utilized more and more, oil production and emission have decreased due to alternative methods of energy.
Many do not consider hydroelectric energy “renewable” as it depletes the surrounding environment and permanently displaces millions of people. These resources cannot be “renewed”.
The creation of the dam and associated reservoir has impacts both upstream from the dam and downstream. It will change the temperature of the water, the velocity and direction of the river flow, the surrounding climate so that affects 300 species of fish and 47 rare or endangered species in this area.
When droughts occur in China, as occurred in 2006, garbage can pile up in the basin behind the damn. Then, when the basin begins to fill back up with water, this garbage is lifted to float on the surface where it is both visually unappealing and damaging to the environment. The damage is particularly acute for local wildlife that suffer from higher chemical levels in their habitat or that become ensnared in the garbage and die.
The reservoir created behind the Three Gorges Dam waterlogs the riverside and destabalizes steep hillsides. This can lead to devastating landslides with costs in human lives, geologically, environmentally, and economically. These problems will extend for 60 Kilometers, the length of the reservoir, with the potential to cause massive amounts of damage and suffering over time.
The reservoir of the Three Gorges Dam is, similar to other dams, fostering algae blooms and elevated levels of phosphate and nitrate pollutants that are damaging to water quality for both the wildlife and for human consumption. Because the reservoir is so massive, the effect on water quality is going to be on a scale never seen before, particularly as tributaries coming off of the 60 kilometer reservoir are experiencing the ill effects as well.
The Three Gorges Dam has crated a precedent for the construction of many more massive dams, which are the most damaging kind.
Due to sediment deposits and erosion down stream, flooding may actually be more likely. So, while flooding can be controlled upstream, these benefits may be negated by downstream effects.