Three Gorges Dam described in superlatives
China’s 22,000-megawatt Three Gorges Dam, pictured on the cover of our latest Shareholder Report, is an undertaking that must be described in superlatives. Not only is it the world’s largest hydroelectric plant in terms of generating capacity, but it’s also one of history’s most expensive engineering feats, costing upwards of $25 billion.
Many believe that the dam rivals the Great Wall of China in terms of ingenuity, scale and cultural significance. And like the Great Wall, Three Gorges Dam is not without its detractors, who point out some of the project’s unfortunate consequences, such as the displacement of an estimated 1.5 million Chinese citizens.
Consequences aside, China’s venture into hydro power, relatively inexpensive compared to other sources, has contributed to the nation’s reputation for having reasonably low energy prices.
Furthermore, building a power plant of such gargantuan size calls for massive amounts of resources. Construction of Three Gorges Dam required 21 million cubic yards of concrete (a world record) and 463,000 tonnes of rolled steel (enough to make 63 Eiffel Towers). These projects have been welcomed by international manufacturers, exporters and investors alike.
As you can see in the graphic below, China has more of the world’s largest hydroelectric plants than any other nation. That’s a lot of Eiffel Towers.
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Many readers might guess that the lone U.S. hydroelectric plant to make the list is Hoover Dam, but in fact it’s Washington State’s Grand Coulee Dam, which I discussed last month. Believe it or not, Hoover Dam no longer even makes it into the top 50 largest hydro plants in the world.
Not only does China lead the rest of us in sheer hydro megawattage, but it also trumps the competition when it comes to new capacity additions. Of the 19 hydroelectric power stations currently under construction around the globe, eight are Chinese.
Other countries that made significant additions to their hydropower market last year include Turkey, Brazil, Vietnam and Russia.
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For more on China’s resource Renaissance and commitment to renewable energy, check out our latest Shareholder Report. Remember also to subscribe to our award-winning Investor Alert and my personal blog, Frank Talk.
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